In my opinion, it’s this: “Does that make sense?”

I hear this question frequently in many capacities, and it makes me shudder. And here’s why it stinks. First, if the information that you are trying to convey to someone doesn’t make sense, and you then ask them, “does that make sense?”, how do you think that makes them feel? Are they really going to ask for clarification? What would that sound like? “No, can you start over?” or “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

People are reluctant to make those kinds of concessions because it makes them feel inadequate, like there is something wrong with them that’s preventing them from catching on. I’ve seen senior leaders in organizations ask this question in small and large gatherings, and it just causes the gap between them and the audience to grow wider.

So, what would be a better choice? It depends what your goal is. If you’re trying to get confirmation that the customer is understanding what you’re saying, how about a question that extends the dialogue, like “how does this relate to issues in your organization? If so, tell me about them. Or, “ How do these topics impact your bottom line?” There are so many other creative ways to get a response, extend the discussion and learn more about their business.

The next time you’re meeting with a customer or presenting in front of a group, resist the urge to fall back on the question, “does that make sense?” Dig deeper, connect with your audience, and bring them into the dialogue with more pointed discovery questions that will help you better position your offering and the value that it brings.