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.’
Nobody’s life is amazing all the time. We all need to wait at the post office, do laundry and iron clothes. This post is to help you make your boring activities sound interesting.
Last week I showed you how to interrupt politely in a conversation. Now I am going to show you how to ask people to repeat themselves. A lot of students feel embarrassed by this but it is important for conversations between natives, natives and non-natives and also conversations between non-natives only speaking English.
People often miss parts of the conversation. Sometimes it is because of noise or other distractions, sometimes the other speaker is a little too fast. The easiest way to ask someone to repeat themselves is “Excuse me. Could you repeat that, please?”
If you need to have them repeat it again, ask “Could you say that again more slowly, please?”
You should avoid “One more time, please.” if possible because this is not a question but a command and it can appear a little rude sometimes. Don’t worry if you have used it a lot before; you can be better now, and you can still use it if you forget everything else!
At other times, you only need to check what the other person said. For example, “Did you say that you are from England?”
If the person you are listening to said quite a lot and you only want to check the overall meaning you may ask something like “Do you mean that while business is bad we should do more training and then focus on selling when we are busier?”
On the telephone you need to ask for repetition a lot. One way to avoid repetition over and over again may be to ask for an email address. This is because most people’s email address contains their name and their company’s name, so you can get the correct spelling. However, sometimes it really is difficult to hear someone’s name, especially if they have a strong accent. Simply apologise and ask them to spell their name.