What versus Why

It is not always easy to get to the bottom of what is causing issues, obstacles, and road blocks to our progress whether this be personal or professional, individually or collectively.

The natural questions typically start with ‘why.’ Why did you do this? Why are you under quota? Why is your team not making their goals? Ironically, the ‘why’ question can often encourage us to put up our defensive barriers, versus opening the door for joint exploration and discovery of new solutions or approaches. This blog offers a few minor modifications to our questioning of our teams and colleagues as we try to navigate and resolve issues that can impede our forward momentum. Consider:

Before: “It is clearly obvious that ”x’ is the case, so why don’t you do…..?”

Alternative: “Help me understand what you are thinking here. What am I not seeing?”

Before: “Why do you want to do that?”

Alternative: “What is it that you want and what about that is important to you?” or “What other approach might we consider?”

Before: “Why is your team not performing? You need to do ‘x’- because if you don’t……”

Alternative: “What do you think we should do?  What are our options?”

A ‘what’ approach opens the conversation to exploration without defensive posturing.  Try it. I promise you will find it interesting  – and fruitful – to see the collaboration this will foster amongst your team and colleagues.

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