電話でスケジュールの変更を依頼しましょう (CBS B - Lesson 1 - Telephoning to make changes) (Level: TOEIC 500-600)

Goal:  Learn some very useful telephone English 

Lesson 1: Making Changes


Gloabal businesspeople usually have hectic work schedules and often need to change appointment times. Do you know how to make a schedule change over the telephone? In this leasson, you'll learn how:

1. Request a change in schedule or plan

2. To give reasons for making changes

3. To suggest or request alternatives

A man on the telephone speaking English


Listen to the dialogue audio first before reading the text.

Catherine Tate has a meeting scheduled with Tom Hobson, but she is unable to attend.

 Show only English text || Show only Japanese text || Show both texts

Catherine:Hi, Tom. I'm really sorry, but I can't attend the meeting on the 12th.


Tom: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. What’s the problem?


Catherine: Unfortunately, a number of our staff have the flu so we are very busy.


Tom: I understand. We had the same problem last month.


Catherine: Can we reschedule the meeting for the following week?


Tom: Sure. No problem. How does the 18th sound?


Catherine: Wednesday? That’s fine with me.


Tom: Shall we keep the original time and place?


Catherine: That’s perfect, Tom. Thank you for your understanding.


Tom: Don’t worry about it.


Points to remember:
When you have to apologize for rescheduling, a very natural way to signal this is in English is with the phrase "I'm afraid....", for example: I'm afraid, I can't attend our meeting on Thursday. You can also use "Unfortunately...". Also, English speakers usually feel they have to give a reason for making the change. Here are some very natural "excuses" you can use: 

"I'm afraid I have to reschedule our meeting. I have an urgent matter I need to attend to." 

"I'm afraid I have to reschedule our meeting. Something's come up which I need to deal with right away."

As you can see, you can make an excuse without giving too much detail. 

Cultural Awareness:

"Declining” and “Saving Face"

The Japanese culture has many social customs revolving around keeping the peace. For example, the Japanese don’t say no at first nor give direct answers. A common response to a request is, “I will ask my boss first.” or “I will get back to you.” even though at that time, the speaker knows it is an impossible or undoable request. To “save face” in the eyes of another, they pretend to consider the action and then give a negative reply at a later time. This also applies when one is not satisfied with a service or product; the feeling is implied and not stated.

In contrast, direct communication is the norm in Western cultures. Be ready to give a clear indication of what you can or cannot do for your client at the time you are asked. Giving and getting a quick and clear response is expected and appreciated. Instead of saving face, try to find mutually acceptable alternatives.

Now double check your understanding by reading the Japanese translation:




Useful Expressions:

予定の変更を謝罪する Apologizing for a Change of Plans
  • 本当に申し訳ございませんが、12日の会議に出席できません。
  • I’m really sorry, but I can’t attend the meeting on the 12th.
  • あいにくその会議には出席できません。
  • Unfortunately, I can’t attend the meeting.
  • 恐縮ですが、その会議には出席できません。
  • I’m afraid I can’t attend the meeting.
予定の変更を了解する Accepting a Change of Plans
  • それで結構です。
  • That’s fine with me.
  • 私のほうは差し支えありません。
  • That works for me.
  • 問題はございません。
  • That won’t be a problem.


予定変更の申入れを丁重に断る Declining a Change of Plans
  • すみませんが、それは致しかねます。(+理由)
  • I’m sorry, but we can’t do that.
  • あいにくですが、それは致しかねます。(+理由)
  • Unfortunately, we can’t do that.
  • 恐縮ですが、12日は都合が合いません。(+理由)
  • I’m afraid the 12th doesn’t work for me.
代替案を提示する Offering an Alternative
  • 3月2日ではいかがでしょう。
  • How does the 2nd of March sound?
  • 他の業者に頼んではいかがでしょうか。
  • How about trying another vendor?
  • 5%の値引きで大丈夫ですか。
  • Would a 5% discount be all right?
(提案を受けて)次の行動を示す Offering an Action
  • やってみましょう。
  • Let me see what I can do.
  • その件に関しては、こちらからまた連絡いたします。
  • I’ll get back to you on that.
Telephone Tips:

Have you ever had problems understanding native English speakers on the telephone? 

Don't worry! You are not alone. All English learners have difficulties understanding people on the telephone.

Here are some common issues:

  • Some people speak too fast
  • Some people's pronunciation is unfamiliar
  • You can't see the person you are speaking with
  • Sometimes there are technical problems with the telephone
  • It's difficult asking people to repeat information

Follow these tips to help you get native speakers of English to slow down!

  • At the very beginning of the call, ask the person to speak slowly, for example: "Sorry, my English is not so good. Could you speak slowly please?"
  • When taking note of a name or important information, repeat each piece of information as the person speaks, for example you could say "Let me just repeat that back to you..." or "You said....Is that right?"
  • Do not say you have understood if you have not. Ask the person to repeat until you have understood.

These great tips will help you deal with English phone calls more easily.