Here is a question for you! Why won’t McDonald’s place it’s restaurants closer than three miles apart? What is the answer? When you began to think about a solution did you find yourself analyzing facts for an answer? Perhaps you felt an urgent need to reach a conclusion or searched your memory for possible answers. Why is this important to know when coaching employees?
Those are just three of the reasons the word “Why” should typically not be used in a questioning strategy. The word why, when used, causes anal, promotes focus on the past, and implies an immediate answer must be given.
Can you remember the most recent occasion when someone began their question or conversation with you, with the word why? You probably begin to ponder the steps that lead you to the action or decision that you made.
Questions that begin with the word “why” immediately send the receiver into a state of analysis. The word in itself, besides inferring accusation, causes the hearer to compose an answer based on the review of earlier facts.
In addition the word why implies that an immediate answer must be given. If you wish your staff member to engage in reflection before responding to a question don’t use this word. It cause your staff member to become anxious and search for an immediate answer, Obviously the result will be less thoughtful answer.
On many occasions, as you conduct conversations with your staff, you hope for reflective thoughts that will drive innovation and creativity. The use of the word “why” requires your staff member to focus on past events.
If past events were successful this psychological toll might be positive. However very often the events which caused the conversation our less than positive.
Choosing to focus on the necessary actions, in the future, which will get the needed results is more desirable. If you remove the word “why” from the conversation you will inspire your staff to focus on the many possibilities and options which are available.
As always our use of words is important. Good questions, when you are seeking information, begin with the words “who, what, when, where, and how”.
Call to Action
During your next coaching or mentoring conversation with your staff member, if you find yourself, using “why” questions stop and rephrase the questions using one of the preferred starting words (who, what, when, where, how).