Simple Steps to Improving Your Critical Thinking Skills
We often hear how important it is to have a critical thinking approach with regard to different aspects of our lives. In a day and age where we’re overwhelmed with information from all sides, critical thinking has become an essential skill. How else can we separate truth from falsehood, become better at analysing complicated situations, improve our decision-making process and navigate the complexity of this world? It all comes down to critical thinking. The thing is, no one is born having critical thinking skills and you don’t acquire them overnight either. They develop over time, sharpening with each new experience. So, if you want to become a good critical thinker, you’ve got to cultivate this ability. Here are some basics steps that will help you out:
Remember the phrase you don’t know until you know? Truer words have never been spoken. We are not the keepers of absolute truth and most times we are completely clueless about a lot of things going on around us. That’s why you must ask questions if you want to get to the bottom of things and gain a deeper understanding. There is no shame in not knowing something, but it’s a big mistake to shy away from asking questions out of fear of sounding ridiculous. So, ask away!
This goes hand in hand with the first recommendation. When you receive a piece of information and you want to check its veracity, what do you do? Begin your detective work. Nowadays, there are so many sources where you can get informed, it’s infinitely easier to do your research on every topic that might interest you. Learning as much as you can about the subject of your investigation supports critical thinking and will help you get closer to the truth and find the answers you were looking for.
Very often our own narrow perspectives stop us from seeing things for what they are and thinking clearly. To avoid falling into this trap, you must always remain open to new ideas and train yourself to look at things from different angles. Talk to people who have different perspectives than yours, listen to their reasoning, expose yourself to a diversity of ideas and opinions and broaden your horizons. It’s a good exercise that will strengthen your critical thinking muscle.
Let go of biases
Biases are in close relation with the narrow perspectives mentioned above. Our minds like to take the beaten path and make quick connections based on certain patterns that have become a routine in the thinking process. Becoming a critical thinker requires you to recognize your biases and avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions because of them.
Mind the details
Being able to see the greater picture is a valuable skill, but being able to see and analyse the elements forming the picture is also an important asset. The accuracy of the overall image you see is also linked to your ability to recognize the smaller parts forming it. When you understand how different components interact with each other and work together, it will be easier to evaluate a situation accurately.