How Do You Mean?

When in a conversation and I’m not sure what the other person is trying to say, my favorite go to phase that helps me gain clarity is asking…

“How do you mean?” 

While  “What do you mean?” makes more sense grammatically, depending on the tone of voice used, it can get you into trouble. “How do you mean?” is much more subtle and helps keep the other person talking. Often that’s just enough to give you the insight you need.

The technique of “What I think I heard you say was…_____…. is that right?” is another good way to get clarity, but tends to break the flow of conversation and is better left for bigger issues or conflict resolution.

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