Rhetoric & Composition II Rotating Header Image

Invitational Rhetoric & Rhetorical Listening

“Feminist scholars Sonja Foss and Cindy Griffin have outlined a form of argument described as “invitational,” one that begins with careful attention to and respect for the person or the audience you are in conversation with. Foss and Griffin show that such listening — in effect, walking in the other person’s shoes — helps you see that person’s points of view more clearly and thoroughly and thus offers a basis for moving together toward new understandings. The kind of argument they describe is what another rhetorician, Krista Ratcliffe, calls “rhetorical listening,” which helps to establish productive connections between people and thus especially aids crosscultural communications.”

“Invitational rhetoric has as its goal not winning over opponents but getting people and groups to work together and identify with each other; it strives for connection, collaboration, and the mutually informed creation of knowledge. You may have opportunities to practice invitational rhetoric in peer-review sessions, when each member of a group listens carefully in order to work through problems and issues. You may also practice invitational rhetoric looking at any contested issue from other people’s points of view, taking them into account, and engaging them fairly and respectfully in your own argument. Invitational arguments, then, call up structures that more resemble good two-way conversations or free-ranging dialogues than straight-line marches from thesis to conclusion. Even conventional arguments benefit from invitational strategies by giving space early on to a full range of perspectives, making sure to present them thoroughly and clearly. Remember that in such arguments, your goal is enhanced understanding so that you can open up a space for new perceptions and fresh ideas.”

Lunsford, Everyone’s an Author 128-9.