Explaining the ‘why’ in your communication can be the difference between people listening to you and following your instructions, or not.
Whether it’s in the workplace, your personal life, or dealing with children, explaining the why can have immediate results.
It can build you respect, trust, and result in action – quickly. It’s a particularly good tool for leaders.
If people know the reason behind your decision – although they may not like it, or agree with it – they’re more likely to understand and respect it.
Simply saying “because I said so” doesn’t cut it.
Almost all children go through the ‘why’ stage. That dreaded period where it feels like every second word they say as they try to make sense of the world.
For adults, it remains important – even though we may not ask the question as often.
I’m a big ‘why’ person – I question things. I want to know the reason behind what someone is telling me. To be annoying? No. Because when I understand the ‘why’, I’m much more likely to be committed and on-board to following an instruction or taking action.
My knees are a good example. I have severe arthritis and recently had knee surgery. I have been told I have to give up running and jumping exercises forever.
If my surgeon or physio simply said “no more high impact exercise”, there’s a good chance I’d ignore them and keep doing the exercise I love.
Without understanding the ‘why’, I’d probably make the incorrect assumption that their advice came from a pain management perspective.
Instead I asked the question – why?
“If you keep doing high impact exercise, you’ll do further damage to your knee joints and instead of coming back for minor surgery again in a few years’ time, you’ll be back for total knee replacements. We want to delay that as long as possible because replacements only last about 10 years, so you’d end up needing major surgery multiple times because you’re still quite young.”
Suddenly following the surgeon and physio’s instructions makes a whole lot of sense.
Don’t wait for people to ask you why. Get into the habit of answering the question in your communication. The results will speak for themselves.