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Work Culture

Why – One of the Most Powerful Questions Professionals Can Ask

by Andy Davies on June 05, 2018

In this article, I’ll explore the power of ‘why’ in the workplace and explain how this should be used to maximum effect. For new starters and external consultants, this is especially true.

Office politics

As the new kid on the block, some will expect very little of you. It is these people that do not recognise that you have an incredible amount to offer, as you are unspoilt by office politics, and you are not in the rut that many of your colleagues will be in. What you have on your side is an ability to look at issues (anything from the reception layout to marketing efforts) and provide an honest assessment that many will not have been willing to say.

Remember the Emperor's New Clothes story from school? When looking at processes or issues, ask yourself 'why....' It's probably the most powerful start to a question that anyone can use. The best examples of this come from children. Here are a selection of my kids' questions that have put me on the back foot:

  • Why is the sky blue?
  • Why don't those people have enough to eat?
  • Why did you have to change jobs and move house?
  • Why did nanny die?

Workplace questions

The difference at work is that some of the emotional questions are removed and replaced with hard-hitting ones that in one sentence can question your abilities as a professional and a manager:

  • Why did we invest in that product?
  • Why didn't we know there had been an upgrade?
  • Why did you select him/her for that post?
  • Why didn't you tell me?

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