Half the trick to avoiding a fight is not to pick one.
The other half is harder, but let’s concentrate on the first bit. If you suspect someone will give you answers that you need to hear, ask them. But if you also suspect that they will give you answers you don’t want to hear, don’t ask the questions. The judgement is yours to begin with and you’ll have to juggle the concepts of need to know vs right to know vs desire to avoid knowing for yourself. Do it silently – muttering is a dead give-away.
You can pick up a lot more just listening than you’d think – even if you do not speak. Think of it as a case of active vs passive sonar. The first sends out a ping and listens for a return echo. This can locate a target under the water, but alerts that target that someone is seeking it. But an a passive sonar just listens – it can often find the target but not give itself away.
Sometimes you hear outright statements that define things. Statements that leave you in no doubt that you are in the presence of a fool, knave, or saint. Take them as they come – not every thing you hear is a lie.
Sometimes you hear veiled words, euphemisms, or code words. These can state the worst things in neutral terms that the casual listener won’t pick up – but can make contact with people who know the code. A lot of conspiracy and hate communications use this method of avoiding outright censure. Eventually all codes break themselves and everyone knows what the speaker means.
When you hear the veiled hints you might want to confirm your suspicions. But consider before you do ask the $ 64 question whether you want to pay out on the answer. Some social interchanges need to be open and free and some can just left to fester…as long as you can motor away at the end of the evening and not have to motor back.