Have you ever been in a situation where your boss or teacher was explaining to you how to do something, but you just couldn’t seem to understand them? Then you asked for more clarity and their response seemed to be even more foreign than before? It happens. The problem is not only do we not communicate effectively, sometimes our active listening skills aren’t working so well either.

Often times your fear of communicating your lack of understanding is what might cause you not to respond in the appropriate manner. Not asking for an explanation is something that usually happens when you assume that the person you’re talking to will be annoyed by your questions. So how do you resolve this issue? You could have asked them a clarifying question. For example, you might say something like: “Okay, so let me just see if I understood you correctly to make sure we’re on the same page” and then repeat the task the way you understood will save you from asking a million tiny questions.

Assumptions of how much someone knows and how they feel about certain things can lead to mistakes and misunderstandings. And though it’s sometimes hard to get over that voice in your head that says, “Stop bothering them or they’ll think you’re stupid!”, you must understand that communicating with clarity and active listening is essential. It’s something we all must work on if we are to be effective communicators and avoid mistakes.