The word “Why?” has an implicit & subconscious meaning that the other person must justify something “bad” that they have said &/or done:
E.g., Why did you arrive late today?”
Meaning: Justify why you arrive late today.
Result: The other person feels that they are being attacked. Since we all know that “The best defence is a good attack”, the result is normally an argument or an emotive discussion which can destroy relationships.
In English, we can use: “How come…” To obtain a neutral, informative unemotional response:
E.g: “How come you arrived late today?”
Meaning: (non threatening) I am interested in the reasons that caused you to arrive late today.
I would like to know the reasons… (you arrived late today).
I am curious about the reasons for …(your late arrival today).
I would be interested to know the reasons for …(your late arrival today).
Try these techniques and observe what happens!
Please feel free to visit our bilingual (English & Spanish) web page:
© Brownlee & Associates, Madrid, Spain, 2002. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied, translated or reproduced in any form without the prior written consent of Brownlee & Associates.