Avoid the word "Why." It can be a big problem!

 The word "Why" is a problem?


conflict at work

Yes, the word "why" can be a BIG problem. It's a perfection good word in most situations but, if there is tension present, it will trigger defensiveness. 

Why does the word "why" trigger defensiveness? It's a matter of conditioning. Growing up, the word why was frequently paired with a reprimand or disapproval. If an adult was not happy with you, they asked you, "why?" For example, "Why did you spill your milk?" "Why did you give the dog your vegetables?" "Why is your homework not done?" "Why didn't you do your chores?" "Why is there a scratch on the car?" "Why are you late for your curfew?"

Most people have a long history of "why" being paired with reprimands and disapproval. Now, as an adult, if three is tension in the air and someone asks "why?" it is a signal that something unpleasant is about to happen. 

So, what should you do?

Here is the lesson: if there is tension present, replace the word "why" with any other who, what, where, when, or how word. For example, instead of asking "Why do you feel that way?" you might ask, "What makes you feel the way you do?" It's the same question but it helps to avoid triggering unnecessary defensiveness. 

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