‘What?!’ Is Wrong

speaking

When you talk to someone and cannot understand what they say, you need to ask questions. There are right ways and wrong ways. ‘What?!’ is wrong. So are ‘Huh?’, ‘Eh?’, ‘Come again?’ and ‘One more time.’

One Word

One word questions are not polite. The only one you can use is ‘Pardon?’. Speak softly and it’s fine.

One word questions, or grunts such as ‘Huh?’ and ‘Eh?’ make you appear rude.

Being Polite

To ask people to say the same thing again you need to:

  1. Apologise
  2. Say ‘sorry’ to start your question or ‘I’m afraid’ if you want to explain first. You are not sorry for asking; you are sorry for pausing the conversation.

  3. Ask
  4. Be clear and simple. Ask someone to say something again, say it slowly or say it in simpler words.

  5. Please
  6. Don’t forget to say ‘please’. It is always appreciated.

Examples

“Sorry. Could you repeat that, please?”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand. Can you say it with simpler words, please?”

“Sorry. Can you speak more slowly, please

These can all help you have smoother conversations.