When you say “the answer is,” you sound definitive. When you say “PART of the answer is,” you practice sharing an answer that invites curiosity by leaving room for complexity by considering caveats and contingencies.

Caveats reveal the limits of your understanding, research, and/or other perspectives on the topic. When you share caveats, you signal to others that you value humility and are more interested in learning than being seen as correct.

Contingencies serve as a reminder of the role that context plays when shaping the trajectory of an outcome. While many types of context may replicate the same outcome, a few other contexts may influence a different outcome than what would be expected. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Variation, especially in science, is, often, the norm.

Therefore, if your goal is to think and behave more like a scientist and less like a preacher, prosecutor, or politician, then practice saying “PART OF the answer is.” When you speak less conclusively, you position yourself to be more open to re-thinking as well as acquiring insight from points of view other than your own.


*This post is inspired by Sanjay Bakshi’s mention of utilizing the phrase “part of the answer” on this episode of The Knowledge Project.

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