Ask What Not Why…


asking questions, why

Asking the right questions makes a difference.

Beginning at an early age, the thirst for knowledge triggers our inquisitive nature.  Why is the sky blue?  Why is the earth round?  Our desire to understand why things are the way they are does not stop after our childhood years.  As Laura Berman Fortgang  explains, as we get older, we still use “why” to bring our circumstances into alignment with our ability to understand our world

The primary goal of asking why is to identify the underlying cause of a problem or issue.  In the research arena, various methods are utilized to discover insights necessary to inform effective decisions.  According to Naomi Henderson, President of RIVA Market Research and RIVA Moderating Training Institute, learning how to ask better questions and expanding your vocabulary of questioning beyond “why” can effectively elicit the responses you need.  In short, we need to know why, without asking why.

While asking why may give you the answer you are looking for, the potential for an adverse reaction is still prevalent. Why questions:

  1. Put respondents on the defensive
  2. Push for short, concise answers
  3. Incite additional follow-up questions
  4. Elicit negative emotions or reactions
  5. Focus on the past

Instead of focusing on the “why”, formulate questions around whatWhat questions will open the door to future-oriented conversation.  To successfully implement this change, you need to change the focus of your thinking. . . Redirecting your focus from the cause of the problem or situation to focusing on a solution allows to you delve into the what, how, who, when, and where.

Once you understand that why is not nearly as important as what, you are closer to your goal of gaining the insight you set out to find. Eliminating the act of asking why is an effective tool that can be utilized in all facets of your daily life, not just in a professional setting.

About Observation Baltimore:

We take great pride in creating a special environment for research to thrive, which is why Observation Baltimore is Where The Magic Happens. We are one of the top Maryland market research facilities and rated “One of the World’s Best” by Impulse Survey.  Our experienced recruiting is the foundation of our mission, as well as courteous and proactive hospitality and client services. Just six minutes from BWI airport and AMTRAK, our Baltimore research facility has a great location. Most importantly, we understand market research!

To learn more about the market research facility at Observation Baltimore: contact Ryan Ross at
443-543-5345 or click here!


This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 at 5:30 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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