Why – Silent or Verbal
Who, what, where, and when are not as important as “why.” When working with people, we could enhance any interaction when we think “why.” Why someone says what they say or does what they do can often shed much light on the real circumstances of how people react to stimulus like questions, actions, or even opportunities.
In any situation, we have the option to react or respond. It’s one of the things that separates us from the animals as we carefully choose how to act in reply to any set of conditions, expected or otherwise. When people react, that knee-jerk can set off a chain of emotions, often causing unwanted results. Given time (and thought) to respond, the outcome will usually be a better one.
Knowing why someone is asking a question or moving in a direction you would hope they did not go is especially important in business relationships. Understanding why a person behaves can give us unique insights that could enhance or at least make sense of the situation. Is an employee short with you or snippy with clients? Perhaps they are not suited for the position, or they have a personal issue at home, or they feel they are being unfairly treated. It’s counterproductive to “squeeze a round peg into a square hole,” but if a word of encouragement or understanding could turn the person towards the desired results, how much value does it bring?
Some people wear their “why” on their sleeve (we may call that a “chip on their shoulder”), being very verbal, and others bury it with silence (and could be considered introverted) to hide their fear. Either way, your skill in getting to the “why” can help you achieve your goals and usually work in both (or all) parties’ best interest. For example, if a potential client says, “Wow, that price is high,” does it mean they won’t buy or just that they had no perspective on what you are offering? Or could it be it’s just outside their budget or a ploy to get your number down? Perhaps you didn’t build enough value before you presented the dollar amount. Knowing the “why” in this scenario should most definitely impact your next move. BTW – my response in that circumstance would be, “That’s interesting, why would you say that?”
So the next time someone does something that might offend you or seems strange or just does not appear to be right, think “why.” Just the thought may calm your mind and bring peace to a difficult moment. Even better, by digging deep to find the person’s reason, you may help them and in turn you could become a better employer, colleague, or friend. Maybe the person you are talking to needs someone like you to come along and open them up to possibilities that can allow them to sing the song they were meant to share.
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau