A great point made by Patrick Lencioni in his latest email newsletter that is worth remembering:
Chris Argyris, a professor at Harvard, came up with the idea years ago that people need to engage in both ‘advocacy’ and ‘inquiry’ in order to communicate effectively. Advocacy amounts to stating an opinion or an idea, while inquiry is the act of asking questions or seeking clarity about someone else’s opinion or idea. Frankly, one part advocacy and two parts inquiry is a mix I like to see on teams.
Very insightful. This has implications not only for communication (and teams, the direction Lencioni takes it), but also learning. When I think about how I learn best, this really gets to the heart of things. You learn by inquiring, and you also learn by advocating.
Advocating, in other words, has value not simply as a means of convincing others to your point of view. It is also a means of learning in itself. By having a position on a matter and advocating for it, we come to understand the issues better.
Key lesson: Don’t think you are doing people favors by remaining neutral. That’s boring, anyway. Have a point of view. That is far more interesting and will lead to much greater understanding on all sides. Don’t worry that this might “create controversy.” As long as you are polite and respectful, people appreciate (and benefit from) someone with a point of view.