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Stephen Mayo | Explain WHY

Explain WHY

Nov. 28, 2021

Recently I was watching an online lesson from a famous chef, and I noticed a few phrases used over and over:

The chef expressed a lot of preferences, but he didn’t consistently explain why he made each choice.  After decades as a professional, he’s certainly qualified to voice his opinion, and he probably has good reasons behind his decisions.  But he wasn’t articulating them to me, the listener, which mitigated their use to me.  Is bonded cookware always better, in all circumstances? Or simply for the kind of cooking that he does?   I understand he likes that type of knife, but why?  What if I’m a vegetarian and won’t be searing meat? Do I still need that pan he just held up?

As a parent, manager or instructor, there are times when it’s necessary to communicate, “look, I need you to do this thing, right now, because I said so, without asking any questions” (out of safety, expediency, or other reasons).   
But when the situation allows, it’s usually wise to explain why.  Your listener is more likely to receive the request openly.  They are more likely to adopt, embrace, and share it with others.   And if the listener disagrees with you, you can discuss the reasoning together, and you both might learn something.

If you give a lot of directions without explaining why, you’ll probably end up with either a rule-follower or a rebel.  But if you make a habit of explaining why, you’re more likely to nurture an independent, self-sufficient individual who can think and decide for themselves.

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