"These situations are best resolved with the minimum of introspection or self-analysis."

This is where I found it: https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/introspection

Does it mean the situation requires us to introspect, as in even the barest amount of instrospection would resolve the situation. Or does it mean the situation would best be resolved if only the least possible time was spent on self-analysis (while more on let's say communication or discussions about the problem).

3 Answers 3


Without context, OALD's "illustrative example" is rather odd, since on average we're probably more used to being advised to be more introspective and self-analytical than we would be naturally, when dealing with situations that need "resolving".

But in fact, it's from a book by policeman-turned-author-turned-social anthropologist Dr. Malcolm Young, in the context of police officers often needing to act quickly and dispassionately in emotionally-charged situations (where they should just "follow procedure", and not get emotionally or intellectually involved).

In general, the construction X should be done with the minimum Y is used it contexts where the speaker (or writer) implicitly acknowledges that some Y will be necessary, but it should be kept to a minimum.

Of course, it's always possible X can be achieved with no Y at all. But if the speaker is an authority on the subject, you should assume this isn't likely. The advice isn't to avoid Y completely (which would probably be phrased differently). You're being advised that you will need Y, but as little as possible.


It means that of all the possible ways to resolve the situations, the minimum of introspection (or in another word, self-analysis) is the best way to resolve them.

Both of your interpretations are quite close. However, the sentence doesn't state that the situation requires us do any introspection. It just states that "the minimum of introspection" is the best way (to resolve it). Also, the sentence doesn't state that the minimum of introspection (or the minimum of self-analysis) will also need the minimum time, although that is quite likely.

  • 2
    One way of thinking about it is that the minimum amount of introspection or self-analysis needed may be zero. :-)
    – godel9
    Jan 3, 2014 at 19:16

I might offer that it would likely be used in a context when 'introspection or self-analysis' may likely lead you away from doing whatever it is you should do.

It could also be used when giving direction to perform actions that some people would find offensive or cold-hearted.

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