Have You Asked ‘Why’?

A manager was sharing with me his frustration with an individual at his organization. Now, this individual was not a direct report of his, but they did have a certain level of influence, as well as a direct tie to the revenue of this particular group. What he shared was this individual almost seemed to not really show up and almost kind of give up, which in turn was causing this manager to feel like he just wanted to give up on this individual.  

In the last video that I shared I talked about the importance of listening, how vital listening is. But there is a piece of listening that’s really important, and that is staying curious, asking questions. It’s not enough to be a passive listener, you have to be an active listener. And included in that is asking questions!

And so in this situation, I simply asked the manager,

“Well, have you asked this individual why?”

The power in that one question – not just in this situation, but in almost every circumstance of asking why, or tell me more about that – that will engage your active listening skills and help uncover the reasons why something’s happening.  

Instead of just making assumptions; we are so quick to make assumptions, and then make a decision based upon potentially completely false and inaccurate information. By asking, “Why? Tell me more,” it allows you, the listener, to really understand what the foundation of the issue might be so that the two of you can collaborate on a solution together. So when was the last time you asked somebody, “Why?” That one powerful question to uncover what really is truly going on before trying to solve it, or negating it and giving up. I encourage you to ask that question starting today. 

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