Friday, 27 April 2012


I've heard it said that there are three levels of conversation. We can talk about people, about things and events, or we can talk about ideas.

You can see it on the magazine stands. There are the women's mags for lovers of gossip, car mags for petrol-heads, and the likes of North and South who claim to be the "Magazine for Thinking New Zealand."

There is obviously a place for all three, but I enjoy talking about ideas. I like asking questions!

Where? when? which? who? where? how? and what? are the easy ones to answer. They deal with facts, on the first and second level.

But, like a kid tugging at his father's sleeve, the most interesting question for me, is Why?
  • Why do I react that way?
  • Why do you believe that?
  • Why were you there?
  • Why did they do that?  say that?  think that?
When training as a budget adviser and as a counsellor, I was taught not to ask Why? because it was too confrontational. But how can you explain a person's actions until you understand their motives? How can you make sense of their beliefs until you recognize their culture? How can you help them change their future unless you first help them to acknowledge their past? What was going on inside their head? inside their heart?

If truth be told, when I go about my daily work, I do use the softer "Wh" questions. I re-phrase the "Why" question so as not to appear hostile. But what I really want to know, is WHY!

I've also heard it said that the questions you ask reveal who you are as the questioner. I'm going to need to think about that one!


  1. I have to agree! Why is the best question out there!
    Why is very confrontational! Very in your face! Very personal!
    I have often been accused of forcing my opinion on others, but in retrospect I have realised it is only those that did not have or want to have an opinion that I seemed to offend so much.
    Being able to answer or even ask the why question has allowed me to journey on the verbal path of discovering what I actually think or believe out loud while allowing other to interact and flavour the discussion around the WHY.
    I love how you wrote that Blog and I love the feelings that it evoked within. “nice!”
    I might just be back again...

    1. Hi WildHeart, thanks for the feedback! Enjoy the journey :-)