You may be asking yourself, 'But why?'
The question WHY seeks rationalization and can cause us to create and put into words a list of rational reasons for our decisions or actions. These reasons may or may not be true and may or may not actually be helpful. They only answer the question WHY.
When we ask WHY, we embed ourselves deeper and deeper into our already exsiting beliefs and opinions. It often leads us to feel and be defensive. When we are defensive, we are not open to new ideas and possibilities and able to learn. Coaching - without the why - provides the structure through questioning to stretch your existing beliefs and opitions and offer new perspectives and options.
Someone says: I can’t.
A possible response: Why not?
WHY focuses us on the past and moves us backwards towards reasons and memories.
Instead of asking WHY, try asking:
What stops you? -- Switches the focus on the barrier itself and what is stopping you.
What would happen if you could? – Begins the process of imagining solving the problem. This can be a very powerful question. As a consequence of the way our brains process the language of the question, we don’t even really think about what is happening. In order to answer the question, we have to imagine that we have solved the problem.
Through our own answer, we give ourselves options and resources we didn’t know existed and the empowerment to take action. In addition, we can find hidden thoughts (fears, stress, etc.) about what we think if we actually did it. Often times it is here where we can see the once hidden barriers to making changes.
Quick Tips for Replacing WHY
I’ve included a handful of other questions to answer the ‘I can’t’ in your life.
- What specifically can't you .....?
- How do you know you can't?
- You can't according to who?
- Is there anyone else who can?
- You can't compared to what?
- You can't compared to who?
- Has there ever been a time when you could?
For me, ‘I can’t’ isn’t a reason why I can or cannot do something. It's just an action verb.
Asking other kinds of questions can lead us to figure out what we can do, what we really want do and how we can do it.