Questions for Understanding Beliefs and Productively Engaging Disagreement

By | June 23, 2014

People have disagreements about many things. When a person is passionate about an issue, I venture to say it’s typically because their belief represents one or more values which are important to them. When people have disagreements over an issue, they’re often talking past one another without digging into what is really driving the other person’s beliefs. I think if we could discuss the values behind our beliefs, we would have much more productive discussions. We might actually be able to come up with ideas that uphold both party’s values. But we won’t get there if we’re only fighting about our end beliefs. Here are some questions intended to help dig in and understand the values behind our beliefs and how that might aid our disagreements.

  1. What do you believe about the issue?
  2. Why do you believe this?
  3. Why is this important to you? What values are you emphasizing?
  4. How do you feel and/or what do you think when someone disagrees with your belief on this issue? if someone believes differently, what does that say to you?
  5. Can you imagine the possibility that someone shares your values mentioned in question #3 but disagrees with your belief on this particular issue?
  6. If the situation described in the previous question were true, how might this change how you feel about that person? How might this change how you handle the disagreement?

photo credit: ccsdteacher via photopin cc

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