When someone says, “I’ll get back to you,” how should you answer? What does that phrase really mean? In your English class, you may not have learned the phrases that native speakers use in real conversation. These phrases might contain expressions that just don’t make sense unless you learn them and know how to respond.
Today I’m going to share some phrases that may be more for business communication than for everyday English. However, if you want to use English for work, as well as everyday life, then you need to know them!
Thank you to LINGODA and their business English lessons for supporting this lesson. At the end, I’m going to tell you more about how to take live lessons with them online.
Recently I have been doing a lot of business with real estate, asking about the price of a property that might soon be for sale. I have to be very careful about what phrases I use. I need to watch how I ask questions, and how much information I give. It really helps to have some commonly used phrases ready to go for difficult situations.
“I’ll Get Back To You”
Maybe you’re talking to a person you want to do business with. You explain what you can offer, or what you have for sale. Maybe you ask how much money they want for something, like I did when I asked about the price of some property. You might be talking face to face, on the phone, or even in an email.
The person responds by saying, “I’ll get back to you.”
It literally means “I will return your message or respond to your communication.” Sometimes it really means this. But many times, it means “I probably won’t return your message or respond to you at all. I’m just trying to let you know nicely that I’m not interested. But I don’t want to say ‘no’ to your face.”
When you hear this phrase, you might feel like they are finished talking. They have put up a barrier to more conversation, and you don’t know what to say.
How Do I Respond?
If you want to keep the conversation going, you have a few choices.
Let’s see how we can use these phrases in my experience of asking about the price of a property. Here’s how the conversation might go:
Gabby: How much are you asking for your property?
Seller: Hmm, let me get back to you.
Gabby: Okay, thank you. I’ll wait to hear back from you.
With this answer, I have just passively accepted his answer. I lose all power in the situation and have to wait for this person to contact me. This is probably not the best way to respond. Here’s another option:
Gabby: If you had to take a guess, what do you think it would be?
You insist on an answer right now. It might not be the best way to respond, because it’s a little pushy, or aggressive. However, it’s better to get a little more information now than to remain powerless.
A third option is to offer help. You could say:
Gabby: What would you need to have, or to know, so you can provide an answer?
With this response, you’re offering to help the other person find the answer to your question. This might be the best way to continue the conversation in a positive way. Here’s another way to answer:
Gabby: Is there anyone who might know? Is your boss (or a manager) available?”
Be a little careful with this answer. It’s possible the other person may appreciate that he doesn’t have to worry about an answer for you. However, the other person may resent that you want to talk to somebody else instead of them. This might be the case if they are really willing to help you, but they just need time.
Gabby: Ok, when should I expect your call or email?
With this answer, you are indicating that you are very interested, and that you would like the information soon so you can make a decision. Then, if the person does not respond by the time he or she suggested, you are free to ask other people.
Gabby: Great. Let’s schedule another call/meeting for Monday at 2:00. Does that work for you?
Again, with this answer you are telling this person that you are very interested in the answer to your question. With this answer, you are taking the lead in making sure you get what you want.
Don’t Let the Conversation Die
When someone says, “Let me get back to you,” you can use one of these answers to keep the conversation going!
Here’s a little question for you:
When I had my conversation about the price of the property I was interested in buying, I used several of these different answers. Which ones do you think I used?
Here are the phrases I used to keep the conversation going:
Gabby: If you had to guess, what do you think it would be?
Gabby: What would you need to know in order to know the price?
Gabby: Who is deciding the price?
Gabby: When do you think you’ll know?
Gabby: Great, let’s chat tomorrow.
Practice These Phrases
I highly encourage you to practice using all of these phrases NOW so the next time you hear someone say “I’ll get back to you” you don’t lose anything that you are hoping to get in your business.
Next, we recommend this lesson on how to write a business email, including useful phrases to sound more natural with your English.
You can do this! You can negotiate and engage in business in English even if you’re still at the intermediate level. You don’t have to have the perfect accent or flawless grammar to communicate ideas and express yourself to others.
You can practice using these phrases with a native English teacher at Lingoda. Use our special link and code and save on your online lessons today: https://bit.ly/GoNatural_LingodaEnglish — use the code GABBY7 for 15% off your lessons!