What’s your gut response when someone asks you why? Feel a little frustrated, uncertain, or even a bit angry?
During mediation and coaching sessions, participants often tell me they do not understand “why.” It might be “why” the person thinks a certain way or will not agree to something.
I also notice expressions of anger or frustration on people’s faces when asked, “why.” While some of that may stem from the way the question is asked, I see a difference with a just a few word changes.
What if you really want to know “why” though? I find people seem less taken back by the word “what.” Simply beginning questions with “what” makes a positive difference. During mediation and coaching sessions, I may ask one of the following:
- What would you like to see happen?
- What would help you feel more comfortable?
- What are your concerns?
- What would you need for this to be okay with you?
- Under what circumstances might you be willing?
The “what” questions invite conversation and open space for further dialogue. Of course, body language and tone of voice play an important role as well. Are they a match for genuine curiosity? If the tone suggests you do not really care or desire to understand, the word choice may not matter.
What if you approach your next conversation with genuine curiosity? Consider asking “what” with curiosity. You may just find it creates more connection and helps you find common ground.
If you need help moving from uncomfortable to comfortable conversations, consider investing in coaching, mediation, or training. Call or message Bruckner Mediation.