Just one question – why?

I have been reviewing the media reporting on a range of subjects over the past week or so and there are interesting results. This isn’t a statistically valid piece of research but it comes from listening closely. What I have found is organisations and individuals seem to be very good at making statements or saying what will happen but they miss a vital element. The key to effective communication has to be making sure we focus on the ‘why’ of things.

Explaining why something will be the case, will happen, or is needed is essential to presenting a logical argument. People need to understand the reasoning. When we listen to a series of statements being made by leaders, politicians and others we should be asking why. It is time that journalists made sure that the why is clearer explained. When I was studying for a philosophy degree the issue of rational and logical argument was fundamental to every piece of work or research. But it has a very practical application.

When leaders are trying to engage with employees they often rush to say we need to do this, it is important to do something else, and we need everyone to be this way. But if they are challenged about why that is required some will flounder. It absolutely has to be a thread through all communication to say why things are needed. People can then understand the logical and the conclusion, and even if they disagree with the outcome they can see why it is the case.

As communication professionals we should always be questioning people to understand the why and be able to make it central to the activity. It often is not easy to be the loan voice to ask ‘why’ but communicators know that they need to be challenging if they are to be really effective.

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