This is where that pause you take while using that mind-mouth filter comes in handy. A quick answer only comes off as intelligent if the answer you gave actually answers the question in an intelligent way. Sound confusing? If you know the person you are talking to well enough, it shouldn’t be. Regardless, make the effort to understand and empathize with whoever you are talking with. It will prevent you from looking bad.
If you don’t understand something, ask them. Or, ask someone that knows. If a text message is too confusing, or you even think it could be interpreted in more than one way, ask the person to clarify what they mean. If something looks bad, it is not necessarily bad. Rather than jumping to a conclusion that could be wrong or way off base, ask. If the person you are asking has a problem with you wanting clarification, there is likely a bigger issue.
You don’t know what is happening on their end of the message. Their microphone might have picked out the wrong word, the predictive text might have changed something without them noticing, or maybe they meant one thing but didn’t realize it might cause you to interpret something else. In the end, if you are unsure whether it is a good idea to ask them to explain or clarify, ask yourself whether you prefer to possibly annoy them by asking for clarification, or make an assumption or conclusion that could potentially lead to a verbal or physical altercation.
Asking for clarification serves other helpful purposes as well. It helps you to better understand the thought process of whoever you are talking to. It helps you get to the bottom of what the actual issue or message might mean. It will guide you into a much more productive conversation and put you on the same page as the other person so there is no confusion. Most importantly, it demonstrates that you care. You care enough about the other person to make sure that what is being said is understood and you want to make sure that the message is properly received in the way it was intended.