What is the difference between advocacy communication and inquiry communication?

When you communicate, you function differently when you are in advocacy mode, and when you are in inquiry mode.

Advocacy communication puts you in a position of “standing for”, or advocating a particular action, position or set of principles. In other words you are trying to persuade and argue for the position you are advocating.

Inquiry communication is different because the point of inquiry is to UNDERSTAND the position of the other person or people, rather than to change their minds or opinions.

There is certainly a place for both kinds of communication. However, the problem with advocacy communication is that it can interfere with understanding and short circuit listening on both sides. We tend to live in a advocacy type culture and society, and that accounts for a great deal of unnecessary conflict, where both sides try to convince the other, and neither side understands the other. That’s a major problem and weakness.

There is a solution, and a surprising one for those who “advocate”. First try to understand the other side, and once you understand, then and only then should you advocate. That has several benefits and strengths, not the least of which your advocacy will be more effective since you can hook into the perceptions and point of view of the other side. The second benefit is that when you try to understand first, you may find that either it is pointless to continue to advocate (kind of like trying to sell refrigerators to Eskimos), or, you find that there is no need to advocate since both parties agree with each other.


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