If there was one question that I knew would immediately infuriate many of my teachers and professors, it was this one. There were always people that missed class, would ask this same question (even though the instructor blew up at the last person that carelessly asked it) and get an earful. And rightfully so – it implies that it’s possible that nothing was missed which translates to the class or meeting is a waste of time. Even if that’s the case, it’s still impolite.
I still hear this from time to time in the business world. It’s usually in reference to meetings (many of which are a waste of time), presentations or training sessions. In either case, someone took the time to plan the event so they at least deserve a little courtesy. So instead try rephrasing it as “what did I miss?”
Doing so and getting into the habit of using this phrase instead will make you sound interested, even if you’re not.. Remember that relationships are important, so by just having a little sensitivity towards someone else’s you can turn something negative (missing an event) into a positive. Little changes can often have a big impact.