Exploring, or asking open questions is one of the basic skills within conducting a conversation. We know how this works, however, we do not always succeed in paying sufficient attention to this aspect of the conversation. Do you have some difficulty producing solid open questions during a conversation? No worries, there is just one you need to remember; the ‘why’ question.
By asking ‘why’ at various times (approx. 5 times) during a conversation, you invite the other to reflect on the original question at an increasingly deeper level. This ‘5 x why?’ method can also be applied to setting goals, making decisions or discovering drivers or resistance in others. It will help you and your interlocutor to come to the essence of the conversation and to understand each other more quickly. As such, it is easier for you to connect with your interlocutor.
Give it a try during a conversation or apply the method to a problem; for instance, when you are stuck in an issue. However, do pay heed to not coming across as too aggressive. That’s why the ‘why’ question may best be formulated as ‘what causes you to..? or ‘what is the reason for..?. By varying with other open questions, the conversation will still have a natural feel. Being very strict in maintaining the amount of 5 is not necessary; sometimes, only 3 ‘why’ questions take you to the essence, and sometimes more than 5 are needed.
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