When having a discussion with someone about a topic that may be considered to be controversial, it would be helpful to begin the discussion by developing an understanding of the fundamental belief system of each person. This can be done by simply asking, "What do you believe...?"
By inserting a high-level view of the topic as part of the question, and then having each person respond to that high-level question, it is possible to establish a framework for further discussion that may reduce tensions about a controversial issue.
One example of how that might be used would be a discussion between two people about their political beliefs. The question to ask might be, "What do you believe should be the role of government in society? Should society be based on the sovereignty of the individual over the state, or should society be based on the sovereignty of the state over the individual?" Such a question provides the foundation for a discussion about liberty vs. tyranny, conservatism vs. progressivism, or other topics.
If you like this idea, then join The Westlake 9/12 Project as we explore the idea of developing "What do you believe" cards to help initiate civil discussions about contentious issues.