Choose “How” Questions Over “Why” Questions

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Choose How Questions Over Why

"Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers." — Anthony Robbins

Why are you stuck?  That’s not a very empowering question.  You’ll just figure out reasons for why you’re stuck.  Instead, ask a question like "how can you move forward?" or "how might you accomplish that?"  The key is to ask "how" questions over "why" questions. 

In Unlimited Power : The New Science Of Personal Achievement, Tony Robbins writes about choosing "how" questions over "why" questions.

Key Take Aways
Here’s my key take aways:

  • Choose "how" questions over "why" questions.
  • Don’t dwell on what’s wrong, focus on what’s right.
  • Find a way to move forward.

Good Communicators Move Forward
Good communicators focus on moving forward over rationalizing why something’s wrong.  Robbins writes:

Good communicators aren’t interested in rationalizations of why something is going wrong.  They want to find out how to do it right.  The right questions will lead you in that direction.

Choose "How" Questions Over "Why" Questions
You should choose "how" questions over "why" questions.  Robbins writes:

Here’s another important frame.  Choose "how" questions over "why" questions.  "Why" questions can get you reasons and explanations and justifications and excuses.  But they usually don’t come up with useful information.  Don’t ask your kid why he is having trouble with algebra.  Ask him what he needs to do to perform better.  There’s no need to ask an employee why he didn’t get a contract you were bidding for.  Ask him how he can change so you’ll be certain to get the next one.

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Photo by Alaskan Dude.

3 COMMENTS

  1. “Why” questions can easily be turned around by asking “What stopped you…”? or “What makes you…?” (after all, “why….” often is followed by “… did you…?” or “… didn’t you…?”)

    Regards,
    Andy

  2. Hey Andy

    True.

    The key is to shift tense from the past (blame) to the future (opportunity.) For example, “what could you try that might work?”

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