Collaboration is the process of thinking and learning together, often towards the goal of more fully understanding an issue, answering a specific question, or solving a problem. Even in a team environment, individuals do not always agree, which is why debate is common.

Debate is the critical exploration of varying opinions and ideas. It is best performed respectfully in an open, communal environment; or reflexively, as a test-driving of ideas through the labyrinths of your mind.

Respect is the act of treating your discussion partners as members of a shared community. When it appears likely that personalities or identities might clash, all parties should strive for empathy.

Empathy is the robust imagining of another human being’s culture and worldview. It requires courage and self-confidence. Empathy is particularly vital when you find yourself unable to readily comprehend someone else’s ideas or opinions. To be empathetic is recognize that we all belong to at least one community – to seek out and grasp our shared humanity.

Reflection often arises from the best discussions, particularly those where empathy prevails.

To think critically requires not just challenging others’ ideas, but also doubting the supremacy of our own theories and worldviews.