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The Power of "How Come Vs Why"

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

- Transforming "Why" for Better Communication!

Language is a dynamic tool that shapes our interactions and perceptions.

Simple changes in our choice of words can have a profound impact on how we communicate and connect with others. One such subtle alteration is replacing the word "why" with "how come."

In this post, we'll explore the benefits of this linguistic shift and provide examples of how it can enhance our daily conversations.

The Problem with "Why"

"Why" is a common interrogative word used to inquire about the reasons behind an action, decision, or situation. While it's a perfectly valid question, it can sometimes come across as confrontational or accusatory. For instance, asking, "Why did you do that?" may put someone on the defensive and hinder open communication. It implies judgment or criticism, consciously or unconsciously.

The Benefits of "How Come"

On the other hand, "how come" has a softer, more inviting tone. It's less likely to put people on edge or make them feel interrogated. When you replace "why" with "how come," you create an atmosphere of curiosity and genuine interest.

Here are some key benefits:

Encourages Openness: "How come" encourages people to explain their actions or decisions without feeling defensive. It opens the door to a more open and honest conversation.

Fosters Understanding: The shift from "why" to "how come" emphasizes the desire to understand, rather than judge. It promotes empathy and active listening.

Builds Trust: Using "how come" signals that you respect the other person's perspective. Over time, this can lead to stronger, more trusting relationships.

Examples of "How Come" in Action

  • Instead of saying, "Why are you always late?" you can ask, "How come you're often running a bit late?" This approach invites the person to explain their circumstances or challenges without feeling attacked.

  • Instead of questioning, "Why did you choose that career path?" you can inquire, "How come you decided to pursue this career?" This allows the individual to share their motivations and aspirations.

  • Instead of asking, "Why are you upset?" you might say, "How come you're feeling this way?" This shift in language acknowledges the person's emotions and opens the door for them to express themselves more freely.

  • Rather than demanding, "Why did you make that mistake?" try asking, "How come this error occurred?" This phrasing implies a willingness to understand the situation and prevent similar mistakes in the future.

  • Instead of saying, "Why can't you do this task?" you can say, "How come this task is challenging for you?" This change in wording conveys your readiness to offer support or find solutions together.


Language is a powerful tool, and the words we choose matter. By substituting "why" with "how come," we can transform our conversations into more empathetic and productive exchanges.

This linguistic shift encourages openness, fosters understanding, and builds trust in our relationships. So, the next time you're about to ask someone "why," consider the positive impact of asking "how come" instead. It's a simple change that can lead to profound improvements in your communication and relationships.

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