“Do You Understand?” (How NOT to Ask a Question From Someone)

Currently, we live in Budapest and there are many, many great things to do here. You can find more and more people who speak English, but overall, fluent English is still something you can’t always expect if you use a service. (It’s not a problem for us, personally, it’s just a fact of life.)

Fluent English is much more than merely understanding words and grammar. It also means expressing yourself in an educated, polite and understandable way.

Let me tell you what I mean through a personal story. In Budapest, we love the really amazing thermal baths, for example, Széchenyi, Rudas and Gellért.

When we visited one of them last time, the assistant explained to us in English how to lock the door of our cabin. At the end of her explanation, she asked: “Do you understand?

The question “Do you understand?” is most often used in English when you are really angry with someone, or if there’s a tense situation and you want to tell something VERY directly. (There’re some exceptions, of course but it’s valid as a general rule of thumb.)

This is not what you want to do with a client or a guest, or at a job interview.

The thermal baths have great staff and very kind assistants, and I don’t mean to talk down their professional service in any way. I just want to point you to a very important lesson:

If you do this in an English-speaking country or when applying for a job, it DOES matter if you come across as a little rude or not. It matters a lot. In fact, your whole career can depend on it.

In Hungarian, “do you understand?” is perfectly all right. However, in English this is not polite. Instead, you could just say something very simple like this:

“Is there anything else I can help you with?”

If you translate from your native language and you apply your native cultural norms to English, you’ll end up making costly mistakes.

We have a course, called Metaphor English Mastery System, where you can also learn how to express something elegantly and politely so that you can:

* minimize misunderstandings

* sound professional when you speak English

* manage more easily in an English-speaking country

Now we have a special opportunity so if you purchase my Culture Hacking e-book, you also get a free downloadable English lesson from me. Click here and master English with us!