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English Communication Skill: Get More Out of Listening — Ask Questions

English Communication Skill: Get More Out of Listening — Ask questions!


No one says everything you want to hear in the best order, depth, and detail. What to do?  You must ask questions to get the information you want or need.

In the American culture, etiquette prohibits us from  rapid-fire questions. Do questions are not confrontational, but simple easy-to-understand questions to elicit specific information.


Don’t be shy or embarrassed about asking someone to clarify a statement which has an unfamiliar word or acronym.  Many use jargon or language of their profession when they talk.  Ask the meanings of those words.

More difficult is the situation when you are in the same industry and the other person assumes you know the meaning of words that he or she is using.  You may feel embarrassed to ask for the meaning under that circumstance because you think you should know.  There are a few good ways to handle this situation.  My favorite is this , “Just to be sure that we are using our vocabulary in the same way, tell me exactly how you define ABC.”  And when the other person defines a term for you, you can respond:

  • That’s great. We use the phrase the same way.
  • Glad I asked; we use that phrase a little differently, but we can go with your definition.
  • I just learned something new.


Negotiations require special concern. If you think the other person is using a term drastically different than you are accustomed and some real damage may be done if you use the word their way instead of your way in a negotiation, say “We should define that term in the written agreement so others won’t get confused.  You and I know what we are talking about, but we want to be sure that everyone else does, too.”  Don’t get into a battle over definitions.

What about making your English speech pronunciation more accurate? Be Watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercise.

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