One of the best communication secrets a couple can learn is how to avoid asking “why” questions. Those would be questions we ask our partners that begin with the word “why.” Questions that are oh so common in relationships like:
“Why did you do that?”
“Why did you put that there?”
“Why are you so…?”
“Why do you feel that way?”
Here is the deal with the word “why” – it is a confrontational word. No matter what comes after the word “why” when it reaches the ears of the receiver, that person immediately feels like they need to either defend themselves or justify themselves. Think about it. How do you feel when someone says to you, “Why did you do that?” We tense up and many times feel attacked, judged, or criticized. We begin to fumble around for words and try to come up with what we think the questioner wants to hear. Sometimes we even lie because we are being a people pleaser or avoiding getting into trouble. (Parenting tip: Children often have this reaction to the “why” question.)
If we are truly wanting to clarify or gather additional information there are other ways we can obtain it. Some alternatives might be:
“Help me understand how doing that would accomplish your goal?”
“What do you think will happen by doing that?”
“Have you thought about how ___________ will turn out?”
“Tell me more about your feelings.”
Rather than beginning a conversation with a defensive edge to it, try to avoid the “why” questions to allow for safer, healthier discussions. You might be surprised by how much you can learn from each other when the conversation is free from confrontation and accusation allowing for more listening to understand.
Does your relationship need help with improving communication?
Call Carma to schedule a free phone consultation. 321-251-8344