How do you change why questions to a more polite form?

Below are several examples. They demonstrate softening your approach and/or being indirect in your approach. You will have to use judgment as to which style is best in a given situation.


  • I hope you don’t mind, but I am curious as to why you did that?
  • Wow that’s interesting. What made you decide to do that?
  • Is it OK if I ask you why you did that? [If they say, “no”, drop the subject.]
  • Correct me if I am wrong, did you do that to…?
  • I’ve never though of doing that before. Help me to understand why someone might choose to do that.
  • I know someone who did that. He was trying to… Is that why you did it?
  • That’s an interesting thing you did. [and they might tell you why they did it]

  • I have some ideas about what you could do. Are you interested? [If they say, “no”, drop the subject.]
  • I wonder what would happen if you did…?
  • Have you ever thought of doing…?
  • You know what really worked for my friend was…
  • What would I do if I were in your shoes? I don’t know, I might….or…..or….
  • It’s just my opinion, but I might…., but that’s just me.
  • If you did…how do you think it would work out?

Avoid the word should.


Body language and tone of voice are important also. What you communicating with your posture, your arms and the sound of your voice?

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

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