Ah yes, you've been thinking it, we've been lamenting over it. "It" being "how do we actually critically think better?". First we brush up on the definition.
Critical thinking is a deeper kind of thinking, which asks you to dig deeper to question and analyse what you read, hear, say, or write.
A good critical thinker knows that their subjective experiences are valid and real, but also appreciates how objectivity can help build clarity and understanding. The goal is to consider all possible perspectives.
1. ASK MORE QUESTIONS THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED TO
Picture yourself in a conversation with someone – a friend, coworker, over-zealous first date etc – who is excitedly talking to you. Which of the following things are you most likely doing?
A) Getting lost in their eyes and between their eyes. Watching their lips, noticing food in their teeth, then questioning whether you've got anything stuck in yours.
B) Preparing your very witty and clever response. Waiting for a the person to take a break so you can quickly reply before the topic changes.
C) Nodding intently, half-listening, half distracted by the room, intrusive thoughts and your grumbling stomach.
D) Giving them your undivided attention. Listening intently, asking relevant questions, enjoying (and questioning) their perspective and ofcourse, waiting patiently for when it's your time to speak.
While any and all of those scenarios are completely relatable and also valid, for the sake of the theme of this blog, let's focus on D. The basis of any good conversation is mutual interest from everyone involved. And while most of us have honest intentions when communicating, we usually get lost in our own thoughts.
How do you show that you're interested? You ask questions. Not to fill the silence, or because you're deathly afraid of awkward silences, but because you actually care to understand.
- What do you actually want to know?
- What details do you need?
- What details are being left out?
- Do you trust this information?
- Can you discern biased information from unbiased?
LEARN ABOUT ACTIVE LISTENING
Has anyone ever told you that you that you have a habit of interrupting? Or perhaps you're often more concerned with making sure that what you think gets heard, and you forget to give others the same courtesy.
You'll probably benefit from improving your active listening skills. This requires you to try super hard to hear and understand the words someone is saying, in addition the the message they're trying to communicate. To do this, you have to actually pay close attention. Laser beam focus.
Next time you're talking to someone, put your phone aside, look them in the eye (or at the spot between their eyes if eye contact is difficult for you) and truly focus. When your mind starts to drift to paying a water bill, or you start waiting for your turn to speak, re-focus on your conversational partner's words. Echo back what they are saying or ask questions. Skilled active listeners benefit from improved intimacy with friends and family and are more likely to excel in the workplace.
TRAIN YOUR FORESIGHT
You've probably heard the phrase "hindsight is 20/20" but when's the last time you thought about the power of well-trained foresight. Google says it's the ability to predict what will happen or be needed in the future.
It sounds like witchcraft but really it's just a combination of experience, knowledge, intuition and memory. Use your subjective and objective analysis of things that have happened to you, to help you figure out your current situation. Developing foresight is simply the act of making those automated feelings conscious. You don't have to get out the tea leaves and crystal ball, but it might be fun!
We created ReFlex conversation cards specifically to kick your critical thinking skills up a notch (or five). We want you, your family, friends, loved ones, fans and followers to feel inspired to dig deep and explore what you believe and why you believe it. The last few months has given most people more time to sit and think (and sit and think some more), but rather than spending time worrying about the news or gossiping about celebrity scandals; you can use this time to improve your critical thinking and grow closer with your loved ones at the same time.