Apr 26, 2021

The problem with "why"

One of the words for open-ended questions that I left out in the last post on calibrated questions is “why”. There’s a good reason for this: no matter where in the world you are or what language you are using, “why” is almost always received as accusatory and makes people feel defensive.

There is only one situation where you might want to use “why” to nudge someone to see your perspective. If you use it as an accusatory statement towards yourself, you can make the other person feel defensive for your perspective.

For example, you might say, “You’re probably asking yourself why you would ever want to switch to using our business instead of your current provider,” and then follow up with some labels about their perspective of what they are looking for in a business like yours and what you’re offering.

This is the only situation you might use it but since it is tricky to get right with wording and tone of voice, it is best left unused when in doubt.