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Direct Report Keeps Asking “Why?” Ask Madeleine

Dear Madeleine,

I manage a large regional business unit, and a few years ago all managers went through a coaching class. We learned to ask fewer why questions when coaching, and I have found it to be a helpful tip. I know it’s generally not a good idea to ask why questions, because they can put people on the defensive.

What is your advice on what to do when someone asks a why question?

I was recently asked one by a manager who works for me, who also went through the training and should know better.

I find myself not wanting to answer the question for fear I will appear defensive by even answering. I don’t see a good or productive way to answer the question, mainly because the way it was asked seemed to presume that I had done something wrong.

Is it rude to reframe the question the into a form I could answer? Like a politician?

This incident has made me realize that I seem to get a lot of these kinds of questions from this manager—questions I would prefer she answer for herself. It makes me concerned that she either can’t answer the questions or is kicking the questions up a level for some reason. Maybe she is asking for more support?

Confused and Confronted Leader


Dear Confused and Confronted Leader,

This is an interesting one! For readers who wonder what is being discussed here, you can get some background from this article: Important Coaching Techniques Every…

Read the complete post here >>

By: Madeleine Homan Blanchard


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