April 19, 2014
Q is for…
…quibble. Defined as “to equivocate, carp, or cavil” (aren’t those fun words, too?), to quibble means to disagree over minor issues. Quibbling can have negative connotations, in that politicians, for example, often quibble over petty issues in order to avoid addressing larger, more important matters.
That said, a confession: I love quibbling.
Given the name of my blog, you might have already guessed this.
It’s different in different contexts, though.
For me personally, quibbling is about pushing back a little, probing, interrogating, exploring a little more closely. It’s how I get to the deeper levels of things.
For me as a teacher, I call quibbling “playing the devil’s advocate.” Students so often go with their unreasoned knee-jerk reaction. I need to put them through the paces of looking at things from multiple perspectives, willingly suspending disbelief in order to try ideas on for size, and supporting their claims with actual reasons. In that context, quibbling is a teaching tool.
For me interpersonally, quibbling is not something I engage in heavily. I know how to pick my battles, and I’m not big on confrontation or petty sniping…and I hate being on the outs with people I love. But if I know you well and we’ve successfully engaged in sounding board activities before, I might quibble with you in order to help you suss out something you’re investigating. But that has to be something you want. It’s not the kind of thing I like to impose.