By focussing on the how, we can keep conversational participants more fluid and nimble and less self-defensive.
Golden Rule 2. Avoid using the question “Why” This rule may seem counterintuitive because most people’s default question to find out more information about something is “why”. What most people don’t realise is that most of our thoughts throughout the day are constructed from half truths and poorly constructed ideas that we are influenced by because of the media. In hypnosis “why” is known as a reality constructing question which means that when you ask it to someone, they have to look inside them self, search their feelings and experiences in life and form a thought based off the question, and the more emotions get attached to the thought the stronger they feel about it.
When you ask people “why” they will start looking for reasons to justify their experience and why it may be true, and as a result the issue becomes much larger for the person and they get sucked into the void the emotions create. This can make our job much harder when we are trying to solve the issue for the other person. If you were trapped in the wilderness, would you rather fight this gigantic hungry grizzly bear that’s practically salivating at the chance to eat you, or would you rather fight the baby grizzly bear?
Instead of asking “why”, people generally mean “how”.
Bad Example “Jimmy, why do you have odd socks on?” This sends the mind looking for reasons why they have odd socks on and it also locks them into a position, which might be difficult to change later.
Good Example “Jimmy, how did you manage to put odd socks on?” This focuses people on the process of finding odd socks and gives us more room to break the odd sock problem down.
Note. Use the “Why” question when you are moving someone in a positive direction.
Good Example “Jimmy, why are you so happy today?” This sends the person looking for justifications and reasons why they happy – why not make people smile (Source)
Thinking this through it’s hard to translate this to some situations, but leaving it here for later — I do think the “reality-constructing” question is a big insight.