June 1, 2009

Don't ask "Why?"


Still on my reflections after the "Business Leadership for Emerging Futures" I took last week, one of the most insightful things I picked up came from Prof. Sonny Coloma. Here it is:

Don't ask "Why?"

It doesn't make sense at first but the rationale is that being a leader today means having a great sense of almost everything surrounding him/her, and one of the skills that will facilitate that is asking the right questions.

According to Prof. Coloma, the best questions to ask are open-ended & non-judgmental questions. Open-ended questions are questions that encourage objectivity and comprehensive responses. An example of an open-ended question is "What do you think about about the MBA program?" instead of "Why is the MBA program good or bad?"

Non-judgmental questions are ones that don't put any opinion or pointed conclusions. An example would be asking "What events led to this outcome?" rather than "Why did you fail?" This avoids putting the person in question on the defensive. Imagine yourself being asked "What contributed to this result?" rather than "Why did you submit your report late?"

After thinking about it, I think it makes sense to avoid "Why?" questions, especially in the context of work. I've started trying it out and so far it has produced more meaningful conversations and better answers.

2 comments:

ka edong said...

interesting! Why? Because! :D

Another thing I learned, the word "Why" has many nuances to it. It puts people in "defense" mode.

Instead, the question is "For what reasons ... ?" . More objective question, less defensive answer.

Words weild power

Regnard Raquedan said...

Hi Ka Edong!

Thanks for dropping by!

You are right, words have power in them. But it seems they always get mangled. :P