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Challenging

 

Techniques > Conversation techniques > Elements of the Conversation > Challenging

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

When other people make statements, these may be challenged in various ways, in particular as to the truth of information and assertions used, as well as the validity of arguments.

Ways of challenging include:

  • Asking them for the source of information they are using in arguments.
  • Stating that their information is incorrect.
  • Questioning the logic they are using in their argument, asking for more detail or showing it is wrong.
  • Giving information to prove their data or logic is wrong.
  • Asking who else has done what they propose doing.
  • Asking what approval they have for their proposals.
  • Checking that they have the resources to carry out their plans.
  • Asking who exactly is supposed to do what, and what agreement there is on this.

Note that challenging is not the same as disagreeing. Disagreeing is indicating that you do not agree with the overall argument. When a person challenges, they have probably not yet have reached the point of overall agreement or disagreement, but are not yet convinced by the argument being presented. It is in practice an opportunity for the originating person to change what they are saying or suggesting.

A person who is challenging is effectively saying 'I want to be convinced, but am not convinced by what you are saying. I am, however, giving you another chance to convince me'.

Example

So who has asked you to do this?

How do you conclude that? What is the logic?

Is your sample size sufficient to draw those conclusions?

Discussion

When people present arguments or make assertions they often do so with many fallacies in their logic or basing their conclusions on poor quality data. If they are not challenged, they will usually assume that listeners agree.

While challenging is not really disagreeing, it may be used as a substitute. Rather than saying 'you are wrong' a challenge may be used as a more polite way of putting off agreement. If this is not understood, then it can lead to confusion as the other person keeps trying to persuade when they have no real chance of succeeding.

Challenging can also be used as a way of asserting one's identity. It says 'I exist. I am here. I can think. Please acknowledge me.' For such people saying 'That's a good point' and then revising the argument slightly or giving them a little more information is enough to gain their agreement.

See also

Argument, Asking, Disagreeing

 

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