25 Polite Ways to Say, “Dumb It Down”

When we communicate, it’s crucial to make sure our message is clear and understandable to all involved. Sometimes, when someone uses highly technical or complex language, we may need them to simplify their explanation.

It can be a delicate request, as we don’t want to offend the speaker or make them feel that we are questioning their knowledge or skill. Here are 25 polite ways to ask someone to simplify their language or “dumb it down.”

25 Polite Ways to Say “Dumb It Down”

polite ways to say dumb it down

1. “Could You Simplify That for Me?”

This phrase is straightforward and polite, showing that you respect the speaker’s knowledge and just need a simpler explanation.

Example: “Your explanation is very detailed. Could you simplify that for me?”

2. “Can You Explain It Like I’m Five?”

This playful phrase comes from the popular subreddit “Explain Like I’m Five,” where complex concepts are broken down into easy-to-understand explanations.

Example: “This topic is a bit over my head. Can you explain it like I’m five?”

3. “Could You Put That in Layman’s Terms?”

“Layman’s terms” means simple, non-technical language. This phrase is a standard way to ask for a simpler explanation.

Example: “I’m not familiar with these terms. Could you put that in layman’s terms?”

4. “Can You Break That Down a Bit More?”

This phrase suggests that you’ve followed the speaker so far, but you need them to go a bit slower and be more detailed.

Example: “This is a lot to take in at once. Can you break that down a bit more?”

5. “Can You Give Me a More Straightforward Explanation?”

This phrase is a gentle way to ask the speaker to use simpler language without implying that their explanation was overly complex.

Example: “I’m having trouble following along. Can you give me a more straightforward explanation?”

6. “Could You Rephrase That in Simpler Language?”

This request is respectful and to the point, showing that you value what the speaker is saying but need them to rephrase it in simpler language.

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Example: “I think I’m starting to get it, but could you rephrase that in simpler language?”

7. “Could You Clarify That for Me?”

This phrase is a polite way to ask the speaker to explain their point in a different way, potentially simpler and more understandable.

Example: “Could you clarify that for me? I want to ensure I fully understand your point.”

8. “Can You Elaborate on That a Bit More?”

This phrase encourages the speaker to provide more details or examples, which can make their explanation more understandable.

Example: “That’s an interesting concept. Can you elaborate on that a bit more?”

9. “Can You Give Me an Example of That?”

By asking for an example, you’re prompting the speaker to clarify their point in a practical, concrete way.

Example: “Can you give me an example of that? It would help me understand better.”

10. “Could You Explain That Again, Please?”

This is a polite way to ask for a repeat explanation, implying that the fault is on your side, not theirs.

Example: “Could you explain that again, please? I didn’t catch it the first time.”

Communication is not just about delivering information; it’s about ensuring understanding.

11. “I’m a Bit Lost. Could You Recap What You Just Said?”

This response subtly indicates that the speaker’s explanation was complex and a simpler summary would be helpful.

Example: “I’m a bit lost. Could you recap what you just said?”

12. “I’m Not Familiar with That. Could You Explain it to Me?”

By admitting you’re unfamiliar with the topic, you’re indirectly asking the speaker to adjust their explanation to your level.

Example: “I’m not familiar with that concept. Could you explain it to me?”

13. “Could You Speak More Slowly, Please?”

Slow speech often aids understanding. This polite request can help if you’re having trouble keeping up with the speaker.

Example: “Could you speak more slowly, please? I want to make sure I understand everything you’re saying.”

14. “Could You Use a Metaphor or Analogy?”

Metaphors and analogies are powerful tools to simplify complex concepts, and asking for one indicates that you’re engaged and interested in understanding.

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Example: “Could you use a metaphor or analogy to describe that?”

15. “Can You Help Me Understand This Better?”

This phrase politely puts the onus on you, not the speaker, indicating that you’re seeking their help to understand.

Example: “This is a new area for me. Can you help me understand this better?”

16. “Could You Spell That Out for Me?”

“Spell out” is an idiomatic phrase meaning to explain something in great detail, making it easy to understand.

Example: “Could you spell that out for me? I’m not familiar with this topic.”

17. “Could You Explain That in Non-Technical Terms?”

This phrase is particularly useful when someone uses technical jargon or specialized language.

Example: “Could you explain that in non-technical terms? I don’t have a background in this field.”

18. “Can We Take It Step by Step?”

This polite request suggests you’d like to slow down and understand each point before moving to the next.

Example: “Can we take it step by step? I’d like to fully understand each part.”

Effective communication takes effort, patience, and empathy.

19. “Would You Mind Simplifying That a Bit?”

This phrase is a respectful way to ask for a simpler explanation.

Example: “Would you mind simplifying that a bit? I’m struggling to follow along.”

20. “Can You Translate That into Plain English?”

“Plain English” is a common idiom meaning clear, simple language.

Example: “I’m having trouble understanding those terms. Can you translate that into plain English?”

21. “Could We Go Over That Again More Slowly?”

This phrase shows that you’re interested in understanding the topic but need a slower pace to absorb the information.

Example: “Could we go over that again more slowly? I want to make sure I fully grasp your points.”

22. “Can You Make That a Bit More Digestible?”

This is a polite way to ask the speaker to present the information in smaller, easier-to-understand parts.

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Example: “Can you make that a bit more digestible? I’m having a hard time taking it all in at once.”

23. “Could You Give Me the ‘For Dummies’ Version?”

This phrase references the popular “For Dummies” book series, known for simplifying complex topics. It’s a humorous, self-deprecating way to ask for a simpler explanation.

Example: “Could you give me the ‘For Dummies’ version? This topic is new to me.”

24. “Can You Put That in Everyday Language?”

This phrase is a polite way to ask for a rephrasing in more familiar, everyday language.

Example: “Can you put that in everyday language? I’m not quite following.”

25. “Would You Mind Going Over That One More Time?”

Asking someone to repeat their explanation suggests you’re invested in understanding them, and repetition often leads to better understanding.

Example: “Would you mind going over that one more time? I want to fully understand your point.”

Learning to request simpler language tactfully is an important skill that can improve your communication and relationships.

With these polite phrases in your communication toolkit, you’ll be better equipped to understand complex concepts and engage in productive conversations.