McBride for Business Blog

How Can The Word “Why” Reduce Burnout?

May 16, 2018 // R. Shawn McBride // No Comments »

Addressing Burnout:  Getting a Why

***NOTE:  This is a series of articles on the critically important subject of burnout. We offer programs on burnout if its a bigger issue in your organization.***

“Why” is an interesting word.

Bill walks into Mike’s office and Mike asks a simple question, “why didn’t the order get to the customer on time?”

What’s happening now?  From an emotional perspective.

Bill is on the defensive, emotional and upset. Mike is in a control position maybe even feeling a little guilty for having to ask the question.

Bill is stressed because of this and he is going to respond emotionally.

Why Does “Why” Invoke So Much Emotion?

Why is a loaded word. Built into it is responsibility, accountability and the requirement for an explanation.

It’s like a word with built in emotional responses – in this case a negative one.

The Other Side of Why

While “why” can be negative it can also be positive.

“Why” can be your reason for being. Your motivation. Your purpose.

All in one little word.

Ask someone “why” they live where they live or “why” they chose their career and they usually light up.

But asking “why” you show you care about something deep inside them. You also let them connect with something in their core.

Why can be powerfully good.

Same powerful word – two completely different responses.

How Do We Use This Power

Clearly our companies and our teams can benefit from a good “why” and we want to avoid a negative why.

“Why” for the future is aspirational and generally positive.  “Why” of the past is usually bad.

We want to stay on the good side of things!

There should usually be at least two “whys” going on in any organization at all times:  the “why” of the organization and the “why” of the team member.

The “why” of the organization should spark positive emotion and good decisions. They “why” of the team member should motivate them to give their all.

When “why” is used this way it can fuel growth and motivation.

Rewinding Mike and Bill

Now that we know how to use “why” for the positive and not the negative let’s replay Mike and Bill meeting.

Bill walks into Mike’s office and Mike asks a simple question, “how can we improve our processes so that we are on time every time?”

Bill relaxes and they have an open conversation and get to work.

The “why” of the organization is supported by not asking “why” in an emotionally charged situation.

Let’s Reduce Burnout

So if we want to help our people and not cause so much organizational tension the key is to use “why” in an uplifting way not as a stressor.

What’s been your experience with “why”?  Have you been able to use it in a positive way?

Let us know.


Republication:  Permission to reprint this article by McBride For Business, LLC at no charge is hereby given to all print, broadcast and electronic media provided that authorship is attributed to R. Shawn McBride, McBride For Business, LLC, and, 1111 S Akard St #100, Dallas, TX 75215 on the following conditions (1) organizations publishing articles electronically, a live, click-able link to and must also be included with the body of the article, (2) one copy of your publication must be mailed to McBride For Business, LLC, 1111 S Akard St #100, Dallas, TX 75215, and (3) a bio of R. Shawn McBride must be included – R. Shawn McBride is a speaker and trainer on how to Do Business Effectively(TM) including Time Magicment(TM).  Permission is granted for reasonable editing for (1) content and industry specific examples or terms, (2) length, or (3) title change.

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