Helpful tips to invite inquiry and learn what you can do to bring about a healthier discussion with another person avoiding provocation all the time.

By Fred Kofman
Philosopher and Vice President at Linkedin

” It takes two to tango,
but only one to avoid a fight”

No matter how skillfully you express your view, if your counterpart disagrees he may oppose it immediately. This can start a conflict in which both of you harden your positions. At best, this will detract from mutual learning; at worst, it will produce a stalemate.

You can anticipate and avoid the conflict by inviting him to inquire. This will diffuse some of his oppositional energy.

The first step of inviting inquiry is to let the other person reflect over what he heard. An easy way to do it is to ask, for example, “What do you think?” or “How do you feel about my view?” As I suggested here, you can listen appreciatively and dissolve some of the discord.

Then, you can invite clarifying questions. You can ask, “Is there anything I can say to explain further why I think what I think? I’d like to show you my reasoning so you can pinpoint any areas of disagreement for us to clear.”

You can also invite the other to oppose you constructively. You could ask, “Do you see things differently?” or, “Do you find any mistakes in my reasoning?”

These questions relax the opposition. Within this frame, if the other disagrees with you, it doesn’t mean he’s fighting against you; you and him are integrating your diverse points of view.

In the spirit of the learner, your proposal is always: “Even if we disagree, let’s look at the problem side by side and solve it together.”

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