Over the years I’ve worked with different types of people on different types of problems, and despite who I am working with or what the context of the problem is, one question has always worked in my favor. That question being:
Can you please say that one more time?
It’s not a complex question and it works so well.
It allows the person you’re working with to repeat themselves, going over what they had previously explained in a new and different way. When they do you gain more insight to their thought process and their interest. Their revised answer also gives you additional time to take in all of what they have said, forming better understanding of their ideas.
The question allows you to, in a sense, admit a weakness in understanding. It humbles you, helping show your respect for their input and that you truly care and wish to understand them. Because you do, right?
Chances are if we’ve worked together I’ve asked you this question and it’s not asked out of frustration. It’s asked out of the desire to genuinely understand you and better work together. So feel free to turn the question around and ask me to please say that one more time.