"Why?" is bar none my favorite question ever.
If you ask my best friend what she remembers about growing up with me (besides the slumber parties and ice cream) she will say it's that I always asked Why. Ever since I was a child, I wanted to know how things worked and why things are the way they are.
So imagine my delight when I was studiously learning life coaching tools and techniques and our Master Coaches drilled into us that why is the most important question we can ask our clients whenever they are stuck, feeling bad or otherwise not standing in their personal power.
I was giddy.
You mean now I get to ask Why for a living? Seriously. I love my life.
Then I read a book about Excellence. The book is called, Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization. It profiles the service culture and procedures at the Ritz Carlton, and the synopsis on Amazon is right on. They say that "[the authors'] philosophies, rules, and winning examples of service excellence will make you want to implement their suggestions immediately in your own organization." Yes I do. I want to implement their suggestions in the organization called my home, my relationship and the management of my mind.
Why do I want to use their suggestions?
Well it's very simple really. The same method Life Coaches use to help their clients identify the thoughts and beliefs that are holding them back from their full potential is the exact same strategy that the Ritz Carlton uses to ensure 5 Star luxury service at their hotels.
Whenever the Ritz Carlton team identify a problem, mistake or inefficiency their directive is to get to the root cause by using a very simple method that we have baptized and re-named in my house, "The 5 Layers of Why." Let me repeat: You can use the same tool the Ritz Carlton and Master Life Coaches use to get to the root of any problem.
Symptoms are never the issue. Remember this. Symptoms are alarms, alerting you that something is wrong. Solving a symptom is never the answer. Identifying the root cause is the most powerful thing you can to do solve any problem.
Those Ritz Carlton people – brainy. So pay close attention to what I am about to say.
When you are experiencing a problem of any kind –
- Sit. Or stand if you must, but definitely stop and pause.
And then -
Ask Why at least 5 times.
Here is an example from the book:
Problem: Late Room Service
- Why? Waiters stuck waiting for elevator
- Why? Elevator monopolized by housekeeping
- Why? Housekeeping searching for/storing/hoarding linens
- Why? Shortage of Linens
- Why? Inventory of linens only sufficient for 80 percent occupancy
Do you see how asking one or two whys is not enough to get the root of the problem? Do you see how knowing that there is not enough linen on hand empowers the team to order more linen and solve the bigger problem?
Here is an example from life:
Problem: Wife Crying
- Why? Husband snapped at her and used a nasty tone
- Why? He was exasperated
- Why? Wife was late to a very important client dinner
- Why? Because she just found out she is pregnant
- Why? She is scared to share the news
- Why? Husband took 20% pay cut last year
- Why? She is worried about how they are going to pay for medical bills
Do you see how the Wife crying is a symptom that is like an alarm saying "something is wrong here"? Giving her Kleenex and stopping the symptom will do nothing to solve the underlying problem of her worry about the medical bills. However talking with her husband and finding out the new client is going to bring in double last year's business might give her relief. Sharing with him that she is pregnant might help him understand why she was late, and his frustration could become excitement and joy.
The 5 Layers of Why is not cake, but the relief it can give you is sweet and delicious.
Is there a situation on your mind right now that you can ask Why about to identify the root cause?
I am applying service principles from the Ritz Carlton to relationships. What is your favorite company or brand? What can it teach us about relationships and love?
© 2013 Maggie Reyes. Reprinted with permission. Maggie Reyes is a life coach and blogger who empowers her clients and students to achieve authentic success in romance, relationships, life and work through her blog posts, workshops, and personalized coaching programs. Maggie is known for her sassy yet practical advice and has been featured on Focus on the Family Canada, Military Spouse Magazine and the nationally syndicated radio show, Day Break USA. She shares marriage advice and life inspiration at www.modernmarried.com.
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