Let the Facts Finish the Story

What has us jump to conclusions about WHY something is happening? So many of us make assumptions when we don’t ‘know’ all of the information or the perspectives of those involved in a situation. Instead of finding out what is really happening (facts), we finish our inner story based on what has happened in the past or what we expect to happen in the future.

A client of mine’s ‘boss’s boss’ copied them on an e-mail. My client didn’t read it carefully, assumed it was addressed directly to them, and responded right away. The reality was that the email was addressed to their boss, not them. Unfortunately, this action created friction and confusion with their boss to whom the email was addressed. Instead of slowing down and making the space to find out WHO it was directly addressed to, and WHY they were copied on the email, they just filled in the rest of the story in their mind and acted without finding out what was actually going on.

A mother gets single-word text messages from her teenage daughter from the bedroom upstairs and assumes her daughter is upset with her. Frustrated, she sends a snippy reply. Right after she hits send,  she hears her daughter burst into tears upstairs, and when she goes in to find out what is wrong, she learns that her daughter fought with a close friend at school and was feeling betrayed by her group. Her mother’s assumptions and actions made her feel even worse. Instead of assuming WHY someone does what they do, FIND OUT. You may be surprised about what is going on for them.

Drawing false conclusions based on assumptions rarely facilitates the best positive outcome for ourselves or others.

Many of us were trained to NOT ask why as children. Our parents, working full time with multiple responsibilities and little downtime, often stifled our insistent ‘why’ questions. Most of my friend’s parents, and now my friends with their children say ‘because I said so’ when asked why. Not only can this stifle our curiosity as well as our ability to learn and contribute fully this also keeps us out of the present moment. I am grateful that my mother tried her best to answer every ‘why’ I asked AND even tried to find out the answer if she didn’t know.

What is it that keeps us from asking why? Do we think it makes us look uninformed? Do we think it will be a burden?  What if our ‘why’ was never stifled? We wouldn’t feel embarrassed, or like we should ‘know’ when we don’t. We would feel empowered to ask and believe that we add value by asking ‘why’.

As a coach and organizational consultant, I use the question ‘why’ to learn what is behind the way things are done, and how people feel. From my perspective, it’s ALWAYS worth finding out what is happening instead of ‘assuming’ we know or even should know. Understanding the ‘why’ behind what is going on allows us to use the most current and accurate information and allows others to know that what is happening for them is important to us and being considered in our actions and decisions.

How can you use ‘why’ to finish the story?


Wendy Watson-Hallowell | The Belief Coach
Wendy Watson-Hallowell | The Belief Coach
WENDY is passionate about enabling individuals, organizations and communities to value themselves and each other in the ongoing process of change. Wendy has guided hundreds of individuals and over 750+ public and private sector organizations to achieve tangible increases in impact and performance. Her successful practice in mentoring and coaching has led to authorship of the book, ‘Live a Life You Love and Make a Living Doing It’. Over the last 30 years, Wendy’s skills have been honed in leadership roles at MTV Networks, The Rensselaerville Institute, and a variety of community based projects in her town. In 2015 she launched BeliefWorks and offers Belief Coaching as a way to address the root cause of what limits the results we can achieve both personally and professionally. This is an 'upstream' solution to change. Instead of changing limiting behavior, she focuses on changing the limiting beliefs that drive that behavior. In all cases, her clients and partners speak to the specific increases in achievement that her consulting, coaching and partnership roles make possible.

DO YOU HAVE THE "WRITE" STUFF? If you’re ready to share your wisdom of experience, we’re ready to share it with our massive global audience – by giving you the opportunity to become a published Contributor on our award-winning Site with (your own byline). And who knows? – it may be your first step in discovering your “hidden Hemmingway”. LEARN MORE HERE


  1. Hi Mac. Yes- we all seem to have our ‘why’ connected to external response! Like you, I also LOVE why kids and their trust – even with their persistent asking!. It’s interesting that it really comes down to trust doesn’t it? Both trust within ourselves (why is this happening?) and trust with others (why did they do that?) My favorite WHY is also on the inside, asking my higher self for a broader perspective. When something is happening that I don’t expect, I don’t like or I don’t understand, I ask inside ‘how is this FOR me and not AGAINST me?’ The answer I get always brings relief and keeps me out of justification, explanation and defense. Thank you for your comments and your brilliant guidance to always read what you get or what you send so carefully that the why is clear. I’ll start doing that today!

  2. Thanks, Wendy.
    I use “Why” more internally than externally. I love “WHY” kids and treasure their trust for that. For most of us, “Why?” has some baggage about justification and explanation that’s connected to defense. When it comes to emails and such, I always read it aloud, slowly, before sending. Seems to help clarify.