When you ask someone a question beginning with ‘Why’ you need to know something which many people just don’t.
‘Why’ is such a small and yet powerful word to notice, to understand and to be aware of as you use it. Really, why?
Well, it does two things very quickly, immediately in fact.
Two things you want to avoid.
- One, it sends people straight to the word ‘because’ which is justifying their actions/decisions and
- Two, it closes down information-gathering in the request for the reason or explanation.
Big Bird from Sesame Street said ‘Questions are a great way of finding things out’ and questions are crucial to us digging deeper, connecting with people, understanding what’s going on.
Questions help us buy ourselves time,
- they help us to go wider as well as deeper into what’s happening before making a judgement or decision
- Understanding why ‘why’ can trip you up is really key to know.
Day to day, we’re constantly asking questions to find out what’s happening, what progress is being made, how people are, what the situation is etc.
‘ ’Why’ is discouraged since it often implies criticism and evokes defensiveness.’
~ Sir John Whitmore
Think of being asked ‘Why’ in the workplace, or to a home life discussion about something that has some emotion attached to it, ‘Why did you do that?’ ‘Why haven’t you done that?’ ‘Why are you going there?’
You can feel it can’t you? You’re immediately putting the other person on the back foot; so they have to start defending or justifying their decision or their position.
Being on the back foot, defending a decision or position, I think of two people fencing with their face shields and white outfits on, foils and the ready and en garde. Defending their position.
The trick is to remember that when you’re asking for information, when you’re exploring circumstances or options you want people and their minds to be open (and information-gathering) not on the back foot and adopting the en garde position do you? Now you know why.
- How did you decide to do that? (not Why…)
- When did you start this (not Why haven’t you)
- What made you decide that? (not Why have you done that?)
So – notice how often ‘why’ pops into your head today.
Notice how it takes you a second to re-ask the question with Who? What? Where? When? or ‘tell me a bit more about that.’
Then notice what you find out that you may not have done if the person was on their back foot, on the defence.
Do just hit ‘Reply and let me know what resonated for you from this note about being more considered with the power of the question ‘Why’… it’s always good to hear from you and I respond to every comment.
(Above extracted from The A to Z of Being Understood by Kay White with permission from the Author!)
In other news…
Snowy & I are gearing up for our Christmas decoration fest this weekend and have been appreciating all the sparkle around and about our area!
Douglas is contemplating what Christmas means…it being his first one and all that!