I stumbled across a question today on Twitter asking how to solicit your clients’ questions in an email or message.
I always want to say, “Does that make sense?” at the end of an email/message that explains something but feels like that sounds belittling. What’s a better way to say the same?
Two insights here.
- First, no one wants to raise their hand and self-select as not understanding something. The chances of that happening are very low. And because people are reluctant to self-identify as not getting something, they won’t speak up and won’t get the clarification they need.
- Second, the burden to clearly explain the topic is on you, dear reader. The listener/reader/audience is not responsible for comprehending what you’re saying.
With those insights in mind, I’m a fan of using the following phrase in these emails/messages:
“Am I explaining that well? Let me know if I could explain anything better.”
(I’ve been saying/writing/messaging some variation on this phrase since ~2010.)
The magic is that this language flips the message around. Your question is about you and how well you explained the topic, instead of being about the recipient and their failure to understand the topic.
- Did you do a good job explaining the topic?
- Could you explain anything better?
In my experience, with this phrasing, people feel more permission to raise their hand and say, “Oh, hey, I didn’t understand that. Could you explain X again?” And that makes a world of difference.
Am I explaining that well? Let me know if I could explain any part of that better.