The Magic of “Because”

I recently took on a client who is changing careers and wants to improve her interview skills. One technique I gave her involves the word “because.” It’s a simple word that can significantly impact an interview conversation.

I love hanging out with my eleven-year-old godson, Finn. He’s smart, funny, and an utter character who enjoys coming up with ways to drive me crazy. For instance, he loves to ask me, “Why?” When I say something, he’ll immediately ask, “Why?” and no matter my answer, he’ll just respond, “Why?”

At first, I try to come up with a real answer. Eventually, though, my brain fries and I move on to wacky answers, until I just yell, “Because, that’s why!” And then he laughs.

This silly game actually replicates a very common pattern in most conversations and interviews. Often times, we say something without exactly explaining it. Then the other person will ask, “Why do you say that?” And then you try to explain with, “Because….”

In an interview, if your answer lacks a “because,” the interviewer will wonder, “Why does he think that? Why does she believe that? Why does he feel that way?” Giving people the “because” part of why you think something helps to give them a fuller sense of what you mean.

We’re always asking “Why?” even when we’re not saying the word out loud. Throughout our daily conversations, people say stuff that makes us scratch our heads and think, “Huh?”

In an interview, you want to reduce the times the other person thinks, “Huh?!” That’s why you want to give them a “because.”

Consider this: A sociologist conducted an experiment at a library where any time someone used the photocopier, an actor would walk up and say, “Excuse me, may I go ahead of you? I need to make five copies because I’m in a rush.” 94% of the people let the person go ahead of them.

Sure people are willing to help out a person in need, but the sociologist then gave the experiment a twist.

The actor would go up to a person at the copier and just say, “Excuse me, may I go ahead of you because I have to make five copies?” 93% of the people let the actor go ahead of them even though he gave a ridiculous reason!

I’ve tried this experiment and the results matched up. How can it be explained? Simple. People feel satisfied when their “why” question is answered — even with a dumb answer.

Let people know “why” you think and feel the way you do and you’ll give them a clearer sense of you. In return, they’ll pay more attention to you!

Please send your communication questions to me at: jp@jpr-communications.com

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