The Effective Use of Advocacy and Inquiry for Leaders

August 25, 2023

The Effective Use of Advocacy and Inquiry for Leaders

Effective communication is the cornerstone of meaningful conversations. To enhance the quality of our discussions, it is crucial to pay attention to both advocacy and inquiry. Advocacy involves expressing our views, while inquiry revolves around asking questions to seek information and understanding. By understanding the balance between these two elements, we can navigate conversations more effectively.

Visualize a two-by-two diagram that represents the interplay between advocacy and inquiry. In any conversation, we can be high or low on both dimensions. Let's explore each quadrant:

High Advocacy/Low Inquiry: 

This quadrant represents one-way communication, even if both parties are engaging in it. While it can be useful for conveying information, it lacks the depth needed to understand diverse perspectives or foster commitment to a shared course of action. When advocacy imposes the speaker's views on others, it often leads to compliance or resistance.

High Inquiry/Low Advocacy: 

In this quadrant, the speaker refrains from expressing their own views, focusing primarily on seeking information. While it can be helpful for gathering data, it can pose challenges when the speaker has a hidden agenda or intends to influence the other person's thoughts indirectly through leading questions.

Low Inquiry/Low Advocacy: 

This quadrant signifies one-way communication, where individuals contribute little and mostly observe. While this approach may have its merits in specific situations, it can create difficulties when people withhold their views on crucial matters, hindering progress and understanding.

High Advocacy/High Inquiry:

This quadrant promotes two-way communication and learning. Both parties express their views and inquire about each other's perspectives. It allows for an open exchange of ideas, enabling mutual learning and understanding.

To enhance the learning experience in conversations, balancing advocacy and inquiry is necessary but not sufficient. The quality of advocacy and inquiry also plays a crucial role. High-quality advocacy involves providing data, explaining the thought process behind one's views, and connecting the data to the overall situation. On the other hand, high-quality inquiry entails seeking others' viewpoints, understanding their reasoning, and encouraging them to challenge your perspective. Striking a balance between these two aspects fosters significant learning for all participants.

To facilitate productive conversations, consider the following general guidelines:

Frame of Mind:



By adopting a mindset that acknowledges the possibility of different insights and seeks to understand others, you can create an environment conducive to mutual learning and productive conversations. Balancing high-quality advocacy with high-quality inquiry allows for deeper understanding, richer perspectives, and collaborative problem-solving. Embrace the power of advocacy and inquiry to unlock the full potential of your conversations and foster meaningful connections.