When I was a child, I used to wait for someone to ask me “Why” for anything – As soon as I heard “why”, the mickey in me would jump out and say, “Because the sky is so high”, “Because you don’t know how to multiply” or “Because my grandma is making fish fry” – and so on and so forth of irrelevant rhyming answers. I used to think that was so much fun. (In fact, I still think so) :). I am sure some of you would have also said it or heard it.
Anyhow, when I started getting into studying more about the human psyche and stuff, I started realizing why ‘WHY’ was not the best way to ask a question sometimes. It also suddenly made sense as to why we had such ridiculous answers only to ‘WHY’ questions back then. 😉
‘Why’ can be like one of those never ending, never satisfying, trick questions. Ask me why? Well, because – the sky is so high. 😛 Kidding! Because sometimes, we can build resistance in the other’s mind with a ‘Why’ question. One can always follow up a why question with another and another. It may come across as a ‘questioning question’ than a ‘seek to understand’ question. Let’s take a few examples:
– Why do you do that? V/s What’s important about doing that for you?
– Why do you love me? (one can say there’s no answer to that, and still get away with it) V/s What do you love about me? (But, if you hear someone say there’s no answer to this…then you know….;))
– Why did that happen? V/s How did that happen?
– Why are you happy? V/s What are you happy about?
Ask yourself these questions in the same order and you can see, hear & feel difference. The difference is evident in these cases, isn’t it? We are more likely to get a detailed, open response with questions like ‘what’s important about that to you’ or ‘how is that important to you?’ rather than ‘Why’. It also escapes resistance. That said, ‘Why’ isn’t a forbidden question suddenly. There may be situations where a ‘Why’ might make sense too. However, in certain other situations, there are better ways to ask a question and elicit a deeper response than by asking a ‘Why’ question.
If my Mother asks me to do something, and if I ask her why, she is more likely to say, ‘What do you mean Why?’, ‘because I said so’, ‘because you have to’, ‘because it is common sense’ and the like. Whereas, if I ask her ‘Ma, what’s important about doing that’, she is more likely to tell me truly what is important about doing it. It’s one of those small things in life that makes a key difference. In the next conversation you have, try without the ‘Why’ where not needed, and see the difference.
So, Why only ‘WHY’?
When something else is also worth a try!