It is frustrating when your question didn’t get answered, but you also need to maintain a professional relationship about it. Don’t feel out of line to ask for more details or to tell them again what you have questions about.
To professionally tell someone that they did not answer your question you should first thank them for the information they have already shared. Then, state that perhaps your question was not precise enough and ask the same question again in a different wording.
How you present this though can be very important to show your professionalism throughout the discussion. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you!
Thank Them for the Information
A good way to tell them professionally they didn’t answer your question is to thank them for the information they did share. From there, you can point out what you need further assistance with.
This shares with them you did listen and that you found what they offered to be valuable. At the same time, it drives home the point that you didn’t get your question answered.
What to Say:
“I was very impressed with many of the statements you made today. I had a question that didn’t get answered though, do you mind helping me with the following: (insert question here)?”
“I felt like your presentation brought many concepts to light, but I am still in the dark about some. Can you share some feedback on the questions I am including below? I feel that will help me get a better grasp and understanding of this information.”
“Thank you for all you provided today. I know there were lots of questions and time was limited. I was disappointed my question wasn’t answered, but I am hopeful you will be able to answer it for me now.”
“It was delightful to listen to your presentation today. A couple of my questions didn’t get answered, can you help me get those answered now?”
Don’t take it personally, they may have overlooked your question. If you ask your specific question again and they won’t answer, that tells you plenty about their character.
It shares with you that a professional isn’t going to disclose that information to you. It is better to know that than to be on the fence about it.
Hopefully, when you share your specific question again you will get a specific answer to it!
What to Say:
“Can you please answer this question for me (insert question here)?”
“Perhaps it was overlooked, but I asked this question and didn’t get a complete reply regarding it. Can you help?”
“My question may not have been specific enough, I would like to clarify it further (insert your details).”
State You Need More Clarification
Don’t get frustrated if your reply doesn’t have the entire answer you seek. Keep in mind, people perceive information differently.
If you are a novice to the topic and they are an expert, the basics may be something they overlook when they share information.
Tell them you need more clarification and it will encourage them to take a step back, to help them remember the basic foundation of it all.
What to Say:
“I am wondering if you didn’t understand my question completely, I need more clarification on the matter.”
“Can you further elaborate on the answer you provided? I am lacking information about (insert specifics here).”
“I apologize but I am not familiar with this topic, so I need it broken down further for me to fully grasp the concept.”
A phone call may be the ideal solution when you feel your question wasn’t answered completely.
A phone call allows a back-and-forth dialogue and you can get a good feel for them and their interest in assisting you.
What to Say:
“Thank you for taking my call, I was left with some unanswered questions. Do you have time to chat with me a bit and answer them? If not, can we schedule a time to do so by phone?”
“You are very knowledgeable on the subject, and I would love your input on a few things. Can you share with me what you view the answers to be for the following questions? It will help me create a good foundation for learning this information when I have those answers.”
“I know it was busy today and lots of people had questions. Mine didn’t get answered, is there a way I can schedule some time to talk to you and get mine answered? I don’t want to wait until you host another event. I am excited to dive into the materials now.”
If there is any type of survey you are asked to take afterward, fill it out and ask your questions. Make sure you provide your contact details. If not, email them and tell them what a great pleasure it was.
Share you still have a couple of questions and ask if they will reply at their earliest convenience.
What to Say:
“I realize you are busy, but when you have a moment, can you answer these questions? They weren’t answered with the information I got today.”
“So many of my questions were answered at the event I attended earlier this week. There are a few I don’t have information about, I will attach them. It would mean a great deal to me if you can answer them.”
Always show your appreciation when someone shares information with you. They don’t have to do so, even if they are an expert.
Sometimes, they are getting paid to present information and inform you through a learning experience.
No matter what the scenario, thank them for what they shared and show that you appreciate it. This will also make them more interested in answering your questions.
What to Say:
“I am thankful I attended, I learned so much from you and I am in awe. A few of my questions didn’t get answered, is it possible I can ask them quickly?”
“I have a couple of pressing questions and it will really be wonderful if they can get answered. I do appreciate all you shared today; it is golden information that I will treasure.”
“I appreciate your response, but I’m afraid you didn’t provide a concrete answer to my original question. Could you please draw your attention back to the question and try to provide a more specific response? I’m having a hard time understanding how your previous answer relates to the topic at hand.”
“You shared so much today; it is going to take time for it to all sink in. I was jotting down some key points along the way. I also wrote down a few questions, and they weren’t answered when you finished. Do you mind if I ask them now?”
Katie Holmes is a senior author at everyday-courtesy.com with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.