What do you do when you don’t understand?

by Andrew Wien

Posted on September 8, 2020

What do you do when you don’t understand?
What do you do when you don’t understand?

You might assume that everyone else in the room is smarter than you, so you nod your head and stay silent.

You might assume that it’s not important for everyone to understand, so it’s better to move on.

You might be so confused that you literally do not know what question to ask.

This is a WAKEUP CALL. Staying silent has catastrophic consequences.

When you don’t understand, bad decisions are made. You lose the ability to learn and grow. Everyone else loses the ability to learn and grown too.

So what do you do?

Speak up. Worst case is you were the odd person out and people quickly forget you even asked. Best case is you seem like a hero… the person that has the confidence to speak up and drive the conversation to something useful.


In a group meeting, say “I’m sorry, but I’m a bit confused here. Is anyone else confused about X, or is it just me?” One of two outcomes will be likely. 1. Others will be confused too and the meeting will go in a more effective direction or 2. Someone can quickly get you up to speed, and you learn and grow.

In a 1:1, say, “I’m having trouble tracking. What I heard you say is X. What am I missing?” You might be surprised how the other person might start to realize that they are confused too.

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