Over the years every now and then I end up working with people whom I have trouble understanding in English. I am not a native English speaker and usually they are not either.
Here I want to indicate that I don't consider this their fault and I do not want them to feel bad about it. It is more to me not being able to understand the message they are trying to say. Usually this is either due to accent or because of their native language way of speaking interfering with English pronunciation where words loose some letters all together.
This presents itself as a problem for me because sometimes I have to ask for more than 3 times for repeat.
Reason why I see it a s problem is both for work related tasks and for social conversation. Work related things can be mitigated to a degree by using Github and pull request comments, but that can be done only so often. Social things (lunch breaks, after work beer, etc...) can't really be mitigated and I have a fear that it might start to be a problem for me down the road.
One of the solutions I found to work would be to repeat the parts I understood to get them to fill the gaps, but sometimes I don't even get that much from the conversation. Some people suggested spending more time conversing with people in question might improve situation, however I don't interact with people in question that often to begin with, usually because we don't work in same team.
I already checked the previous questions asked in workplace, but they are mostly related to calls. The usual response is to invest into better equipment or to switch to email communication, however this is not applicable for in person conversation.
I am looking for any advice on how to deal with this on my end to hopefully increase my level of understanding. Other than forcing more communication which I have fears is already awkward to begin with, is there any known method which could give me some better chances of avoiding this issue?
Also second thing, should I maybe apologize to people in question and how would I do that politely or should I not mention it at all?
Some more context. This is not related to one nation, it has happen with more than 3-4 nations so far. I work in Germany as developer.