Ask “what” questions, not “why” questions

Another tip from The Coaching Habit: avoid questions that start with why and replace them with questions that start with what.

  • Don’t say “Why did you do that?” Instead, say “What made you choose that course of action?”
  • Don’t say “Why do you think that?” Instead, say “What’s making you believe that?”
  • Don’t say “Why is this late?” Instead, say “What led to this missing the deadline?”

Why questions put people on the defensive. A harmless why question can sound like a criticism which will taint the response. What questions keep you in the mindset of the trampoline.

Plus, asking a why questions is a symptom of trying to fix things. Remember, advice is a last resort. A why question is a flag that the Advice Monster is rearing its ugly head. Your goal isn’t to fix their problem for them, it’s to help them think through it.

“What” is the new “why”.


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