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How to decide

Questions are powerful, to be sure, and in all sorts of ways, some unexpected. You might think of them as a grammatical construct designed to elicit information, but they also tie us up in knots, so they can be a powerful waste of time.

Asking why something happened, or why someone did this or that, for example, might be a fun way to pass the time of day, but answers to questions like these can be hard to find. Even then, they may not help in a practical way.

Asking what needs to happen, how to respond, or who can help fix something might be more sensible; answers will provide direction and momentum and can tell you what to do next.

“Why?” is speculative and if it provides answers at all they will be uncertain. Whereas questions preceded by who, where, what, how or when are on firmer ground, and they tend to indicate a course of action.

Why?” may reveal a cause, so if you think you need to deal with the result of something (it’s effect), you’d best design your questions well and to understand – each time you ask one – what you hope it will do.

 

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