‘Critical Thinking’ is a vital skill to have in this current climate of misinformation and complexity. The best Critical Thinkers distinguish themselves from other people because they possess a few characteristics that strengthen Critical Thinking. These characteristics include:
1. Curiosity: True Critical Thinkers are constantly hungry for new ideas and insights. Be curious about everything and ask questions other people also have, but don’t ask themselves.
2. Humility: Good Critical Thinkers acknowledge that their beliefs and ideas might not always be the best, and that they cannot know everything. There is an old saying that goes: ‘Knowledge comes through humility’. Therefore, accept that it’s impossible to know everything, because doing so will mean that you will probably spend more time looking for answers.
3. Investigation: Are you looking for an answer to something, or are you perhaps not satisfied with a particular answer? As you dig into a topic, new information often emerges that brings you closer to the answer you are looking for (which may different to what you thought it would be!)
4. Active listening: Don’t be a passive listener during a conversation or discussion, instead actively try to participate. This will force you to ask questions that will allow you to distinguish facts from assumptions.
5. Objectivity: Good Critical Thinkers are able to stay objective. They stay focused on their goal and don’t allow their personal emotions (or those of others) to affect their judgement.
6. Creativity: Be creative and enter a brainstorm session, for example, without any prejudices or opinions. You will be surprised at the ideas and solutions that arise! Often, we don’t allow ourselves to think freely and mainly look for ideas that reinforce our existing beliefs.