The ability to think critically is more important now than ever. That’s especially true in the world we live in today, where there’s so much information flowing around that it can be challenging to figure out what’s real and what isn’t.
You can improve your critical skills in five ways: by asking questions, developing your self-awareness, and testing your assumptions. Besides that, you can also seek to find alternative opinions and try on different perspectives to see the same issue through other people’s eyes.
In this quick article, we’re going to take a closer look at these five ways and see how you can use them to develop your critical thinking skills further.
One of the most fundamental things you need to do to improve your critical thinking skills is to ask questions. There are two parts to this:
Asking more questions.
Asking better questions.
Becoming inquisitive and asking more questions will help you gather more information to form a judgement. Learning to ask better questions, on the other hand, will help you reach the suitable types of information much more effectively.
Develop Your Self-Awareness
Next, you should also work to develop your self-awareness. Sure, ‘self-awareness’ is a very broad term, so what do we mean by that exactly?
In the context of critical thinking, self-awareness means understanding what your limitations and biases might be. Everyone has limitations in their thinking due to a lack of knowledge or experience. Besides that, we all have our natural biases.
For example, people are often biased towards believing things that agree with their political views.
When you’ve developed a stronger self-awareness for your own limitations and biases, you’ll keep an open mind, allowing you to think more critically, no matter the topic.
So, how can you strengthen your self-awareness? Every time you’re making a judgement on a topic, picking one side over the other, write down your train of thought. Identify your assumptions and biases, and try to understand how you came to that conclusion.
Over time, you’ll start to discover patterns in how you think. More importantly, you’ll understand how your mind works when you’re thinking about an issue.
Test Your Assumptions
As mentioned previously, we all have limitations and biases. These lead to us developing assumptions about a topic that may or may not be accurate.
Once we have developed enough self-awareness and can identify our assumptions, we can make ourselves better critical thinkers by testing those assumptions.
Figure out what you’ve accepted as the truth. Then, test those ‘truths’ by gathering evidence that proves or disproves those assumptions.
Find Alternative Opinions
There’s a popular saying that every issue has two sides. In reality, real-world problems often have many more sides than just two, and each of them presents its own collection of opinions.
To become a better critical thinker, you must expose yourself to all of these alternative opinions. Understanding where the other sides are coming from will enrich your own mind and allow you to think much deeper.
Always remember: people don’t just form their opinions out of thin air. They do so based on their knowledge, experience, assumptions, and biases, just as you do!
In this day and age, many people make the mistake of ignoring alternative opinions entirely. They turn the discussion into an ‘us vs them’ dynamic, refusing to even listen to what the other side has to offer.
That’s a huge mistake when it comes to critical thinking, for two reasons. Firstly, doing so will shut you off from expanding your thinking with new information. Second, it also makes it much more challenging to convince others of your ideas if you refuse even to consider theirs.
The bottom line? A good critical thinker must be wise enough to keep an open mind and listen to what the other side has to say.
Try Different Perspectives
Besides discovering alternative opinions, it’s also crucial to try on different perspectives on the matter you’re discussing. As an excellent critical thinker, you must be able to see things through other people’s eyes. In other words, you should walk a mile in their shoes to understand how people have formed their unique perspectives.
Doing this doesn’t mean abandoning your own perspective entirely. It simply means exposing yourself to new information and absorbing whatever you agree with.
In the end, your critical thinking ability becomes strengthened, and you’ll make much better decisions in life.
Whether you’re discussing politics, football, food, or any other topic in the world, critical thinking is a priceless ability. By becoming a better critical thinker, you’ll be able to make better decisions in life that’ll benefit you in the long run.