14

When somebody calls me on the phone I need to say something when answering. In English (similar to other languages) it may be sufficient to just say

"Hello"

Is it accepted to just say "Hallo" when answering a phone call? Are there any conventions on what to say in a private setting, or in my company?

16

There are indeed many people just saying "Hallo?" or "Ja?". But also very common with most pople answering a private (landline) number and not knowing the caller, is saying their last name. If it's a business phone, then of course you say the name of the company, your full name and a greeting.

15

I think it depends if you're answering a personal cell phone or a landline phone which is used by more than one person.

When I answer my cell phone and I the caller ID is shown on the display, I answer according to my relationship to the caller. For example:

(friend)
Hallo, Anna! (or simply) Hallo!

(business related)
Guten Tag! (or very friendly) Guten Tag Frau Schmidt!

If I don't know who is calling (unknown number, of suppressed caller ID etc.), I normally pronounce the hallo as question:

Hallo?
or
Peter Meyer. Hallo?


Related question:
Redewendung wenn man an ein fremdes Telefon gehen muss

5

It is getting more and more accepted to simply say "Hallo" when answering the phone. Personally, I don't like this kind of greeting. Voices on the phone often sound quite different than they do in real life. I often don't recognize the person on the other end and have to ask something like "Bill, is that you?"

So, I'd suggest that on a private number you simply respond to the call by saying your name ("Hans Mustermann" or simply "Mustermann"). On a cororate line I'd answer something like ("Firma XYZ, Mustermann, guten Tag!").

4

IMO saying at least your last name when answering your phone is a matter of politeness: humans voices tend to sound unfamiliar over the phone, so the caller can easily know if he got the right person without the awkward question "X, is that you?".

I talked to people, which rather not say their name when answering their private phone due to privacy concern, but I don't really get their point there: I'm sure that if I wanted to get their name basic social engineering tricks would do the job.

  • 2
    I used to do that too. However I don't think you have to be particularly polite when answering a phone anymore. Someone else wants something from me (the least of which is my time). It also creates a lot of confusion when e.g. you still live with your parents and get confused with your father/mother all the time. All this only applies when I don't know/see the caller ID. – musiKk Jan 10 '12 at 11:38
2

I answer the phone by simply saying "Ja?", or my surname and nothing else. The caller greets the callee with a "Hallo", however I see more and more people change that to either localized greetings or general greetings, like "morgen", "guten tag", "guten abend", etc. It seems quite weird to answer Skype calls with a Hallo, for some reason.

For some reason, the localized greetings are also accepted in many places (such as the German military, the Bundeswehr).

It is alright to say "<surname>, moin". When I called customer support in southern areas in Germany, I was greeted with a "grüß Gott", quite often.

2

These examples are taken from this pdf (It will download a pdf file)

There are lots of possibilty to accept a call. The person, who is accepting the call, should decide which one to choose. The examples below are mostly for the business world.

Breitenbach KG, Einkauf, Gottfried Schmitt am Apparat. (Was kann ich für Sie tun?)

Breitenbach AG, Zentrale. Guten Tag.

Vornweg&Co, Helmut Fischer. Grüß Gott.

Guten Tag, hier ist Firma Maibach & Söhne, Papierverarbeitung, mein Name ist Edwin Huber.

Vorzimmer des Vorstandsvorsitzenden Dr. Herzfeld, Britta Droste.

Schmitt, Apparat Stalke.

Apparat von Herrn Stalke.

Neumannn GmbH, Kleinert am Apparat,

Huber.

Eva Kleinert.

  • Some organisations, specifically in public administration, have real bandworms of required phone prases. Employees are instructed to follow these 100%, so it may well be the first 30 seconds of your call are used up by this. "Landesbehörden Baden-Württemberg, Staatliche Fachstelle für das öffentliche Forstwesen im Regierungsbezirk Freiburg, Sie sprechen mit Hans-Dietrich Sommer-Fröhlich, Guten Tag!" would not be uncommon... – tofro Apr 12 '17 at 12:16
  • @tofro You are right. Because of the fact that the introduction part mostly lasts too long and I cannot find a suitable answer to this question: who call me? :) – Ad Infinitum Apr 12 '17 at 12:23
  • 1
    +1, that PDF looks like an excellent and comprehensive resource. – Pont May 3 '17 at 15:52

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