WHY You Should Avoid Asking WHY
Updated: May 3
For a long time now, I had felt that asking Why in user interviews was putting the user on the defensive. I didnt know why this was happening, but I could sense it.
So I used to go to great lengths to rephrase my WHY questions as WHAT questions.
A few weeks back I came across this brilliant video on LinkedIn, which explained Why "Why" has this effect on people 😃
While growing up we were always asked "Why" whenever we did something wrong. For example:
Why were you late for class?
Why did you get such low marks?
Why did you get into a fight?
Nobody ever asked "Why" when we did something good:
Why did you get here early?
Why did you get such good marks?
Why did you make friends with everyone?
Because of this:
In our subconscious we associate WHY with going on the defensive!
So, what do you do?
You convert the "Why" question can be rephrased to a "What" question.
For example, instead of asking:
"Why don't you use our product?"
"What can we improve in the product to make you use it more?"
Initially this rephrasing will take some effort. But if you make a conscious effort, over time you can reduce/ avoid the Why question in your conversations with users.
Bonus tip: Whenever you catch yourself asking a Why question in a conversation, make a mental note. After the conversation ask yourself how you could have asked that as a What question.
We will be looking at more tips for user interviews over the next few weeks.
If you'd like to chat about user research and user interviews, give me a shout and ...