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Perception IS Reality

By Ryan Sauers

About Ryan

Ryan T. Sauers is president of Sauers Consulting Strategies and spent nearly 20 years leading printing and promotional product companies prior to founding the firm. The organization consults with printing and promotional product related companies across the country, helping them grow the front end of their organization. Sauers is working on his Doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership and is the author of the top-selling book “Everyone Is in Sales”, with another book in the works.  He is a Certified Myers Briggs Type Indicator and DiSC Practitioner and Certified Marketing Executive. Ryan writes national feature articles and speaks at national conferences on such topics as sales, marketing, communications, leadership, organizational strategy and social media. He is also an adjunct university professor. More info at

Why Ask Why?

Young children have the habit of asking “Why?” Often, as parents, it is easy to become annoyed with the nonstop stream of questions. “Daddy, why is the sky blue?” “Why do I have to go to bed now?” Why? Why? Why? If you’re a parent you know what I mean.

Why did we ever stop? The simple question of “why?” teaches us, as parents, to better communicate with our children and teaches us, as adults, to not settle for a simple answer. Asking “why” made us functioning members of society, yet we gave up the habit.


It made us feel childish and then we hit the age where we thought we knew it all. Consider how our communication would be if we simply reverted to the use of why? Why is a trigger word that forces us to open up and explain. In the case of communications one must be able to successfully explain his or her point of view to others. Some of us do not like to explain why we do what we do.

My favorite style of communications uses The 5 Why’s Communications Model. By asking yourself or others “Why?” you are able to reach the root of the question/problem and gain results. This method, covered in more detail in the book, not only helps us to focus our conversations, but also to gain a better understanding of others. When you ask “5 Why” or related questions, you will get to a buyer’s real truth behind an answer.

Here is an example:

Question 1: Why didn’t we get that brochure job?
Answer 1: Your price was too high.

Q 2: Why was our price higher? 
A 2: Well, I am not sure offhand, but it seemed to be higher based on my quick review of the quotes received.

Q 3: Why did ours seem to be higher than the others you received based on your quick review?
A 3: As I remember, you built a lot of additional options to the base price that other printers did not.

Q 4: Why was this a bad thing?
A 4: You know, you gave me some great ideas, and now that I think about it—it may have made your price seem high.

Q 5: Why didn’t you compare everything “apples to apples”?
A 5: Honestly, I planned (due to time) to go with my current printer, but now based on what you have told me, I am going to go back and review this in more detail. You have asked me some questions that make me wonder if I am getting the value I thought I was and if I have somehow overlooked the best option.

BINGO...Five questions (on average) gets you to the “root reason” of why someone does what they do. So try it sometime. And, don’t ask me why?

What is your best “why” question? And—one other thing—why so?

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