Whether it is a virtual or face-to-face meeting, there are several instances in our professional lives where we are unable to understand what exactly the client is trying to tell us. This is mostly the case when the language we are listening to is not native to us.
Nobody prefers to say "what?" or "I don't get it" for the apprehension of sounding informal or impertinent. People often deter from asking elaboration simply because they don't want to sound slow. In such a situation, how should we ask for clarification?!
Clarification is the basis of effective communication. It is a prerequisite to understanding your client's protocol and strategy. If you have a difficulty in comprehending your client's orientation, you should ask for clarification to avoid any kind of confusion. Hence, learning the art of asking for clarification is essential.
Tips and Tricks
- Admit that you need further clarification to make it easier for your client to proceed. Do not beat around the bush and acknowledge that you were unable to understand.
- Do not put it in a way that sounds accusatory. Accept that the confusion was from your side.
- If you decide to ask when the discussion concludes, always provide a summary to your client in case it was complicated and detailed.
- Always be specific. Point out what it was that you did not understand.
- Do not hesitate to gently ask for a repetition of that particular statement.
- You can begin by stating what the speaker has described and check if you got it right.
- After the person clarifies your problem, always end the conversation telling that you understood.
- Do not forget to say thank you.
- Keep a check on your tone. Your tone can clearly reflect that you are actually confused.
- Always keep a polite and friendly tone while asking for clarification.
- I'm sorry but I am not sure I understand.
- Sorry to interrupt, but I didn't quite follow you.
- I'm afraid I was unable to understand what you meant by [.........].
- I don't think it was clear to me. Do you mind repeating it?
- I couldn't catch your perspective. Could you rephrase it?
- If I am not reading it wrong, I think you mean [.......] when you said [.........].
- My comprehension of what you said was [...........], is that what you meant?
- I am not sure I was able to interpret it correctly. Could you repeat the statement?
- Can you give me an example so that I can understand your impression better?
- Pardon me for troubling but can you elaborate what you implied by [...............]?
- Excuse me for bothering but can you be more specific about this?
- Sorry for interrupting you but could you explain that again?
- I beg your pardon, but I am not sure I was able to correctly hear what you said.
- Can you repeat it slowly, please?
- I am sorry I am not quite sure what [........] means.
- I think I am struggling to understand your point of view.
- Excuse me for bothering but I think it is unclear to me. Can you repeat, please?
- I didn't hear you. Could you please repeat a little louder?
- I don't think it is clear to me. Can you provide more information about the topic, please?
- Can you clarify what is the reason behind it?
Clarifying Questions: These are the questions that the listener asks the speaker in order to clear any kind of ambiguity and misinterpretation.
Probing Questions: Probing questions motivates a detailed and comprehensive response about the related subject. It directs the speaker to provide more information about something they have said.
Orientation: Orientation is a process to familiarize newly hired employees with the company's policies and workings.
Deadline: The latest time or date by which something should be completed.
Summary: A brief statement or account of the main points of something.
Accusatory: Indicating that one believes a person has done something wrong.
Strategy: A plan of action constructed to achieve a long-term aim.
Onboarding: The process of integrating a new employee into an association or familiarizing them with the company's products and services.
Open-ended Questions: An open-ended question is a question that cannot be answered with a "yes" or "no" response. Open-ended questions are statements that compel a comprehensive response.
Specific: Clearly defined or identified.
Misinterpretation: The action of interpreting something wrongly.
Elaborate: Involving many carefully arranged parts or details; detailed and complicated in design and planning.
Response: A reaction or answer to a statement.
Explicit: An answer that is stated clearly, leaving no room for doubt.
Imply: Indicate something by suggestions and ideas rather than an explicit response.
Read it right: Understanding a subject without any confusion or mistake.
Not able to follow: Unable to understand what the speaker said.
Pardon: The action of requesting the speaker to repeat the sentence because the listener did not hear/understand it.
Perspective: Point of view of a person.
Comprehension: The ability to understand something.
A- You have to finish the website details by tomorrow.
B- I am sorry but I am not sure it was clear to me.
A– Complete the pending tasks relevant to the website by tomorrow.
B- Oh, I will. Thank you.
A- We have planned a new project around the EdTech companies.
B- Sorry to bother you, I'm afraid I am unable to understand what you meant by "EdTech."
A– It simply means using the latest technology for educational purposes.
B– Interesting topic, Thank you for the elaboration.
A- You have to improve the user interface of the website.
B– Could you please be more specific so that I can work accordingly?
A–The website has to be more user-friendly. It should be precise, consistent and easy to use.
B– I understand your point. Thank you.
A–We have a webinar scheduled for tomorrow at 5 pm.
B– Excuse me for troubling you. Do you mind repeating the time?
A–The webinar will be at 5 pm tomorrow.
B– Okay, thank you, I will join.
A– The company will be introducing a "Book Reviews" section soon.
B– If I am not reading it wrong, I think you mean books related to career development when you said "book reviews."
A– Yes. And not just that, we will be adding books from diverse genres to attract more readers.
B– I see. Thank you for the clarification.
A– We are going to cut costs to ensure smooth functioning.
B– I beg your pardon, but could you rephrase it?
A– We will reduce the use of high-cost tools to reduce our financial burden.
B– I see your point. Thank you for clearing it.
A– We will be hiring interns for content creation, social media marketing and website content management.
B– Pardon me for troubling, but could you elaborate on that?
A– How much time do you need to complete the project?
B– I think there is a network issue. Do you mind repeating it a little louder?
A– We are falling short of digital marketing strategies.
B– My understanding of what you said was our growth of potential online customers is moderate, is that what you meant?
A– Yes, you got it right. We need to work more in that area.
B– Very well, thank you.
A– We will start the onboarding process shortly.
B– Excuse me for interrupting but I didn't follow you.
A– We will begin with the appointment of new employees soon.
B– Ah, I got it. Looking forward to it.
A- Our platform is not receiving sufficient real-time views.
B– I don't think it is clear to me. Do you mind providing more information about the same?
A– I will e-mail a document pertaining to the subject. Please read it thoroughly.
B– I will check it out, thank you very much.
A- Your internship will include a letter of recommendation, certificate and stipend.
B- I am not quite sure if I follow you, could you please repeat that slowly?
A– You need to work on the elements to improve the overall success of the website.
B– Could you give some examples so that I can get a better idea of the situation?
A– Your stipend will depend on the quality of the work.
B– I beg your pardon, but could you be more specific about this?
A– Even after working with SEO tools, the results are not satisfying. So, look into this issue.
B– Excuse me, but could you clarify the reason behind it, please?