Asking for what you really want

My friend John asked me today why I do what I do. It’s a pretty big question. After responding with, “just because” he probed further and gave me the opportunity to share with him (inflict upon him?) some of my rationalizations, justifications and excuses. It was delightfully self-indulgent 😀

But it didn’t give him the answer that he was after.
What he really wanted to know was what I hoped to get from doing what I do. He was looking to understand what I was doing things for. And you don’t get that by asking, “Why?”

Even phonetically, “why” sounds so much like “whine”!

Asking someone why opens a can of worms as much as it gives them a chance to talk. Maybe you want to know why – it happens. But much of the time you’ll get the information that you’re really after faster by asking “what for”.

Maybe try it out with yourself – notice something that you do. Perhaps something that you’d like to change, but even for something that really juices you and makes you feel great. Then ask yourself, “Why do I do that?”

And then ask, “What do I do that for?”

Notice the difference. You could try it out on someone else too…