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Asking probing or open questions are basic skills in conversations. We know how to do this, however it is not always getting your full attention in a conversation. Do you find it hard to come up with good open questions during a conversation? Don’t worry, there is only one you need to remember: the ‘why’ question.

By asking the ‘Why’ question multiple times (about 5x) in a conversation, you are helping the other person to deepen the original question. This ‘5x why?’ method is originally a way to get to the bottom of a problem. The method is also applicable to set goals, make decisions and to discover motive and/or resistance during the conversation. It helps you and your conversational partner to come to the core of the conversation and understand each others interests. This makes it easier for you to connect with your conversational partner.

Experiment with this during a conversation or apply the method to a problem; if you get stuck discussing an issue for example. Make sure you don’t become offensive in the conversation. It’s better to formulate the “why” question as “what makes you ..?” Or “what’s the reason that?”. By using different open questions, the conversation will still feel naturally. Strictly sticking to the amount of 5 isn’t necessary either; sometimes 3 “why”-questions might bring you to the core and other times more than 5 could be required.