Tap into Your Inner Four-Year-Old: Ask “Why?”

Your Inner Four-Year-Old and Why: A Powerful Three Letter Word 

The most important question to ask is “why?” It doesn’t matter if you’re the new boss or someone that has worked in the same organization for years. Tapping into your inner, inquisitive four-year-old by asking “why” will shed light on the rationale (or lack thereof) of processes and procedures. A greater understanding will improve future decisions on necessary change or developments.

Perhaps you have a four-year-old (bless your heart) and you can attest that they ask “why” quite a few times a day. Their questions stem from genuine curiosity because they want to learn more about the situation. The same holds true for the benefits of asking “why” in your job. “Why do we do it this way?” may be answered with “because that’s how we do it.” But that is not really a good answer. Arguably, a process or procedure was established (way back when) for a reason. Therefore, like a relentless four-year-old, you should not settle with the first answer.

That’s Interesting. Tell Me More, Please.

Generally, the question “why?” is really another way of saying “that’s interesting to me, tell me more.” Adults and co-workers often approach the question with the need to answer it from a cause and effect perspective. Other times, we approach the question defensively. However, we should change our mindset when answering the question. Like a parent trying to teach their child about the world, we must see the question for what it is. Then we should seek to answer the question to shed more light on the rationale behind the process or procedure.

Asking the question may facilitate communication, collaboration and brainstorming sessions. You may also find that the rationale behind standard operating procedures or protocols are outdated. In other instances, asking “why” like a four-year-old may address unspoken frustrations, subsequently improving work place dynamics.

For more reading on the importance of curiosity, check out these articles:

NASA Reframing Risk with Curiosity

LaMesha Craft is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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