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Why Asking “Why?” Is the Wrong Question

From the time we’re children, we seem hardwired to ask the question “Why?”

Just hang out with a preschooler for an afternoon and you’re likely to hear everything from “Why do I have to use a fork?” to “Why isn’t Christmas in July?” and a hundred other “why” questions that’ll more than likely wear you out so much that you’ll stop answering them completely.

As we get older, we may not ask the number of silly “why” questions that a preschooler asks, but that doesn’t mean we stop doing it. In fact, we often use this word hundreds of times a day—not just in our conversations with others, but in our own self-talk as well.

When we try to be introspective, we tend to ask ourselves, “Why did you act that way? Why are your feelings so hurt right now? Why didn’t you think before you blurted out that tactless statement?”

So what’s so bad with “why?”

To begin with, it often elicits a very unhelpful answer: I don’t know.

In fact, that’s probably the most common answer to the “why” question– and introspection or communication often dies after those three words are uttered. Additionally, “why” can sometimes come across as judgmental and can cause the person being asked why (including when we ask it of ourselves) to shut down or feel the need to become defensive.

So what would be a more helpful question? Read on here for some tips!

Trish Cody has over 20 years of experience consulting with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 Companies. Today, as an ICF and iPEC Certified Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with clients to uncover their core values and beliefs, clearly see how they are showing up in their behaviors and impacting their success, and to shift their thinking to naturally attract positivity and success. For more information, visit

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