Why curious people rub others the wrong way
The Six Percent Entrepreneur
Why curious people rub others the wrong way
April 12, 2021
In this episode, we talk about how asking the question "why" may turn a conversation into a negative one
Here's an epiphany that I didn't have until much recently and it's all because of this book that I read and I'll share what that book is in a moment. But essentially what is opening up for me is I realize how, me personally as a curious person, how I could actually rub people the wrong way. And I feel that if you're a curious person as well, then this will help you to figure out, okay, what just happened with my interaction with this person, why did I rub this person the wrong way? 

And yeah, it's like these moments when you're just left with what just happened, we don't really, you know, I don't really understand what has happened um to give you an example of this when I was first working on my first startup coin feed, the crypto media app that I was building right after I left my corporate gig, we were in new york, it was for a crypto conference and we're going to just try to spread the word as much as possible, network, um etcetera, and this was a hub that was going on. We decided to go to new york and we were showcasing actually at a few satellite events etcetera. 

Anyways, long story short, we're in new york to try to promote our app, and while I'm in new york had a friend that I lived in new york at the time, he was a friend from business school and we were both in a lot of the same startup classes together, so I was really excited to see his friend and it's a friend that's super smart, he is like one of the smartest people I know, and so I was excited to see him just because one, like hanging out with really creative, really smart people, but to, you know, I was working on my own startup and I figured that this person would be a great sounding board for mine, and then he's also working on his and I would be able to help him as well. And so this is my thought. 

So we invited his friend, it was me and my co-founder was staying with me. I'm trying to keep all the names redacted, so I protect everyone, but it was me and a co-founder. We were in this hotel room, we invited my friend from business school and he came over and as he came over, he was talking about his startup. He was excited about a startup, etcetera, and I was actually excited to hear about a startup in me as a curious person. What I kept doing is one I'm curious about the startup. I'm also curious about why he makes the choices that he makes because again like I said, I believe he is a brilliant person and I'm fascinated by how people make decisions, whether rational or irrational. I'm just fascinated by decision-making. 

So I'm always asking questions. So I was asking this friend why he's making the decisions that he's making, why he's making the choices that he's making. And somewhere within the discussion, he gets pissed off, he starts insulting me and my company. It was like really weird, but it was really, he started getting really defensive and he just storms out and he was pissed and me and the co-founder that was staying with me in the hotel room, we just looked at each other or like what the hell just happened. Like we have no idea. That was one of the weirdest things ever. 

And then after I read this book. So the book, I've mentioned it before in previous podcast, but it's called Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and it's a book about negotiations and Chris Voss was an FBI negotiator. So he's like sharing his tips and tricks for negotiating. And in this book, what he says is you never want to ask the question why, because when you ask the question why it automatically puts the other person in a defensive position and they feel like they have to defend their ideas and their choices and their decisions. 

So when I was asking my friend all these why questions, even though I was curious, that's not the way he was taking it, he took it as a challenge. He felt defensive because he felt like, you know, instead of me asking him why he made these choices so I can learn from him. He felt that I was asking why he made these choices and I was questioning his decisions and questioning his choices. So it made him feel upset and it made him get really aggressive and feel really defensive and you know it was a very poor night full of misunderstandings and awkwardness etcetera. But it was all because of this curiosity and after reading never split the difference and seeing how Chris Voss uses that. He says you don't want to say you don't want to ask the question why? Because people are defensive unless you're trying to get someone to defend your position. So then you can say you know why would you defend my position something like that? And then it forces the other person to defend your position. So that's the only time you would use the question. Why? Otherwise, if you are a curious person and you are asking the question why it will actually rub other people the wrong way. They will feel like you're questioning their decisions and their choices and they have to get defensive. 

So instead of asking this question why and this is something that I've been trying to practice ever since reading this and ever since I had this epiphany that this is going on, I've noticed that I asked the question why a lot. And yeah, usually when I ask the question why it does leave people feeling a little upset and now what I'm trying to do is instead of saying why I will position the question in a way that uses the words what or how? So instead of saying why did you do this, I might say what was the reason behind this? And then I might just add a little bit more just to let them know that I'm not trying to intrude or I'm not trying to challenge them that I'm actually, you know, I'm coming in with good intentions wanting to learn because I'm just a curious person. 

So if you're a curious person, if you've noticed that you've been pissing people off by asking too many why questions, then this is exactly probably why um you've been running into the situation. So reflect a little bit I suppose, and think about all situations where you've asked why questions, even when other people have asked you why questions like why are you doing this etcetera? How did you feel, How did that make you feel? It probably made you feel defensive as well. I know it makes me feel defensive and I hope this helps. So if you are a curious person, here's a way to start rubbing people the wrong way like I have been and I hope this helps you too. 

Boom. Bam. I'm out.

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