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Tip of the Week - Methods of Inquiry

Updated: Oct 5, 2022

Welcome back ;)

In this week's episode of Tips For Sanity, let's explore a way to reduce stress through improving how we think about information that's new to us, or info we don't like, like someone else's contrary opinion.

The flood of new information we are exposed to daily can get overwhelming:

  • News about the political scene, the economy, or world events (oh no, not another shooting or act of "terror")

  • A colleague, friend or loved one who wants change

  • The tips in your weekly Tips For Sanity newsletter ;)

So much information these days!

How do we learn quickly when there's so much to learn? How do we make good choices that actually benefit us? Where should we put our focus?

Did you know that with 4 simple steps, you can:

  • learn and apply new skills faster (like these tips)

  • make more powerful choices by knowing clearly what drives your decisions

  • improve your discernment, build win-win solutions and reduce dissatisfaction?


In college I took a course that made my life better, called, "Methods of Inquiry". Besides high grades, it also gave me other amazing life experiences, by teaching me ways to think and learn more quickly.

Here are 4 bits from Methods of Inquiry that enrich my life, even today. I hope they will also enrich yours:

  1. Inquiry Step 1 - Describe It - Observe and describe the data, skill or experience without evaluation, interpretation, assessment or projection. This step answers the questions, "who", "what", "when", "where" or "how". For example, if looking at a particular car, we wouldn't say, "it is a fast car," we would say, "it is a Porche doing 120mph." Describe it. What is the skill? What is the subject? What is the experience? Just the facts, Jack. Who? What? When? Where? How?

  2. Inquiry Step 2 - Pros and Cons - Discern the pros and cons of the subject being observed (and all phenomena have pros and cons). For example, a Porsche may be able to drive 120 mph, but it also may be more expensive in gas and insurance. Discerning the pros and cons on every subject we encounter helps to cultivate both differentiation and respect for other ways of being (even if we choose not to engage in those other ways of being). Choose a subject you are aware of but don't like. Can you list benefits of that subject, even though you still may choose not to like it? Choose a subject you hold absolutely true or beautiful. Can you list drawbacks of that subject and still love it anyway? What are the pros and cons? You might not change your preferences, but you will certainly understand more and appreciate more.

  3. Inquiry Step 3 - Compare and Contrast - What other alternatives can you try? Now that you know the pros/cons about the Porche, what about a Honda, or a Lexus, or a Ford pick-up truck? Compare the pros/cons of one options to the pros/cons of another, alternative choice (and there are always alternatives). For example, if you decide to compare the Porche to the Ford pick up truck, you'll notice that the truck may not be able to drive 120 mph, but it may help you clear out the yard faster. Suddenly you realize you have a value for both performance and utility. That's worth considering!

  4. Inquiry Step 4 - Choose - Make an informed choice, conclusion or preference, using the previous three steps. This step answers the question, "why or why not". For example, you might decide on the Porsche, a Ford pick up truck, both, or another option entirely that accomplishes both performance and utility.

So, how are these steps helpful to reduce stress in today's world?

Here are specific examples of how you might use these steps to reduce friction, increase respect and increase mutual understanding, appreciation and acknowledgement:

  • Have you ever seen someone jump to step 4 without integrating steps 2 and 3? When we realize that all choices (and all people) are made up of both strengths and weaknesses, we reduce our frustration and increase compassion. Name one subject, person or authority figure you feel strongly against. Without sarcasm, can you name one positive trait about him/her/it? Can you name the underlying value of yours (that you want better care for) that makes you feel grumbly about him/her/it?

Finding Value in Other Views

  • Consider a political party you do not subscribe to. Regardless of your political stance, can you describe the stance of the other party in non-judgmental, neutral, factual terms? Can you see benefits of the other side? Can you describe your own position factually, including both the pros and cons of your position?

  • Consider a point of argument between you and a family member or loved one. Regardless of your opinion, can you describe the stance of the other in non-judgmental, neutral, factual terms? Can you see benefits of the other side? Can you describe your own position's pros and cons in a matter-of-fact way? You can even invite shared understanding, acknowledgement and respect with a question, like, "One benefit I see about your options is XYZ. Could you tell me one benefit to my option that you appreciate?" This can help increase mutual respect and acknowledgement. Or, "I know you wouldn't personally choose this, but could you tell me one aspect of it you can appreciate anyway?"

  • Build win-win strategies to feed the underlying values behind choices. If you understand the value of someone's choices, and they respect at least one value driving your choices, then you can advance to looking (together) for strategies that integrate both sets of values. The Porche has speed, the truck has utility. "What could we do that would give us both?" Maybe we'll borrow each others' vehicles. ;) New options will surface here that might surprise you!

Using these 4 steps of inquiry we can learn faster, apply learning more quickly, and build discernment and respect, reduce dissatisfaction and invite easier win-win solutions.

Try it! Then share your success stories in the comment section below!

For integrating TipsForSanity, we'll use these 4 steps, like this:

Walking the Talk

  1. What are the four methods described here? Describe when and how they could be applied.

  2. What are some pros and cons of using this method?

  3. Compare this way of thinking to your (or others') usual way of thinking (as you perceive it). How might this practice be better or worse? What are some pros and cons of doing it differently?

  4. Where might you apply this practice to increase sanity in your life? In your relationships? At work? In your community or groups you enjoy?

  5. How can using this method reduce frustration for yourself and others?

For more help with this tip, or if you’d like a free phone consultation toward an ongoing coaching relationship, call Maya toll-free +1 (800) 889-3829 Tue-Sat 1-4pmET or click here to book an appointment.


Maya Gail Taylor's work with more than 10K clients as a consultant, coach certification school owner, wellness coach, tech developer, author and human evolution trainer has earned her more than 500 LinkedIn endorsements. She trained extensively with Marshall Rosenburg, David Deida, Ken Wilber, Newfield Network, BayNVC, Integral Institute and many others, while delivering her own body of work called "The Integrated Approach" (TIA), a meta-catalogue of skills and technology supporting the evolution of human consciousness through psychographic awareness, balancing, empathy and a 10-point integrated emotional intelligence informed by needs-consciousness and the transpersonal. To learn more about this method, follow LIFTnibbles on YouTube, Instagram or Facebook.

In sessions with Maya, you can trust you will get care, confidentiality and extraordinary results.

Click here to schedule a session or call +1 (800) 889-3829 Tue-Sat 1-4pmET.

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