By Liz Menne
We have all been around a child (or two) who asks a run of “Why?” about some mundane topic. At that moment, the constant “Why?” can be very frustrating, but those moments can remind us about ways we learn throughout life—asking questions!
Questions—we love to hate them. Whether you are new to an organization or have been there for eons, there’s always something new we can learn. Questions are vital to educating ourselves and building bridges across our organization. The critical piece of asking questions in the workplace is our tone and approach. No one wants to be interrogated about their job or made to feel they are doing something wrong. Asking what I call a “Why plus” question can open doors to collaboration!
What is a “Why plus” question? I’m so glad you asked! (See what I did there?) A “Why, plus” question is a why-directed question with a little sprinkled explanation to bring the right approach. Say you are interested in event RSVP data. Reach out to your event team and ask: “I’m interested in our event RSVP data and how we use it post-event. Could you explain what data we collect and why we collect it?” By asking this why-directed question with a sprinkle of explanation, we don’t sound like a toddler asking, “Why, why, why?!” or sound sassy, “Why do we do things that way?!”
Asking these questions can lead you to collaboration or connections. For example, say you reached out to your Annual Giving team about a report. As you have learned about the report and its intended use, you might realize that your development team in Business was looking for something similar and didn’t want to build from scratch. You can now connect these two teams and hopefully make both of their work lives a little easier. It might even lead to better data sharing across your organization, enhancing your donors’ experience.
How can you ask “Why plus” questions with your partners around your organization that will help strengthen your department and allow you to play nice with others in the sandbox? Channel your question-asking inner child, sprinkle in an explanation, and engage with your partners from the place of learning, understanding, and growth. Go build better relationships—not only with your donors but with your teammates!
What “Why plus” questions will you be asking your teammates this week? Add them in the comments below.