Asking why and understanding why

We know that it is good practice to understand why things are being done a certain way. The better we understand why, the more effective we can become.

There are many ways to understand why. We can understand why by listening, observing, asking, or doing some combination of the three. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, asking why optimizes for speed and can be effective in some situations. But, it can also backfire. That’s because being on the receiving end of why questions is challenging and, occasionally, annoying.

When I was recently reminded to understand why things are being a done a certain way, I realized that, in my mind, asking why is often synonymous to understanding why.

But, on further thought, I realized it isn’t the same thing. Asking is just one approach to understanding why. If we seek to understand why, it helps to realize this and learn to tailor our approach based on the situation.