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Ten critical thinking strategies – PART 2

Ten critical thinking strategies – PART 2

By Olayinka Opaleye

While writing this article, a nursery rhyme struck me. It goes, “For every problem under the sun, there is a solution, or there is none. If there is one, think until you find it. If there are none, then never mind it.” Here are the remaining five strategies to hone your critical thinking skills.

Keep a journal. Journaling is no longer new to us, as we are often encouraged to keep a daily gratitude journal. However, in this case, you are encouraged to keep a weekly intellectual journal. An exciting part of this journaling is that it should be situational. So, identify a situation that significantly affected you emotionally during the week and describe your response to the problem. Take time to analyse what happened in the situation by probing deeper and assessing what you learned from the situation vis-à-vis the implication analysis. Then, list your learning points and what you would have done differently.

Read also: Ten critical thinking strategies – PART 1

Adopt intellectual traits: One of the best ways to reshape one’s character is by adopting intellectual qualities that make you a critical thinker. These traits include empathy, courage, autonomy, perseverance, grit, tenacity, forbearance, fairness, confidence, integrity, and humility. You can perform this exercise by choosing a virtue in a month to work with; for example, in this month, you may choose forbearance. Then, you deliberately stop becoming quick to judge other people’s mistakes or attack them for their blunders. Pay attention to how you feel when you first notice the errors, shortcomings, or falsehoods in a statement, post, or report. Identify how long it takes you to come around when or if this upset feeling keeps you from functioning effectively. Devise a means to overcome the negative emotion by taking the following steps before reacting to the mistake:.

Double-check if your viewpoint is accurate.

Evaluate the chances that you may be wrong.

Then take deep breaths to give yourself some time before reacting.

Move on to other things momentarily while weighing the best way to go about pointing out the mistake and correcting it while avoiding an open rebuke or attack on the person(s).

By completing these simple steps, you would have added more knowledge to yourself, avoided hasty conclusions, realised there are more important things than always being seen as correct, and prevented hurting others while correcting their mistakes. Adopting intellectual qualities promotes your critical thinking abilities, makes you flourish intellectually, and encourages you to always pursue the truth.

“This consciousness helps build resilience and grit, which are needed even in adversity. It can help turn negatives into positives, frustrations into fulfilments, dead ends into renaissances, and despair into optimism.”

Overcome your ego: Dealing with one’s ego is crucial to any critical thinker, as it’s easy to assume you are better or more knowledgeable than people around you. A critical-thinking person is prone to irritability towards others and subconscious bias towards themselves. To deal with this, you must start observing when your egocentric thoughts kick in daily by answering the following questions:

Was I irritable about anything today? If yes, what was it and why?

What made me think or act with bias in my favour today?

Did I say or do something irrational to get my way today?

Was there an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to a discussion? If yes, did I?

Did I choose discomfort (airing my view) over resentment (regretting not doing so) or otherwise?

How did I feel about the level of acceptance of my viewpoint?

Did I try to impose my will, thoughts, or perception on anyone?

This inexhaustible self-questioning will help you identify when your egoistic self is trying to dominate your objectivity and how to tame it. The taming process encourages self-reflection and rational thinking while avoiding self-deception.

Analyse your association. Assess the behaviours encouraged and frowned upon in all your groups. Be sure the values of the group align with your values vis-à-vis the whole essence of being there in the first place. Avoid groups that put unnecessary pressure on you and expect you to conform to certain norms that reek of undue advantage, inequity, and shallow learning opportunities. Be active in groups that encourage personal growth and development, civility, mutual respect, and fairness.

Redefine your perception. Your outlook on issues, situations, scenarios, or reactions can build or destroy your happiness level or relationship with people. This technique of redefining one’s perception broadens your horizons, allowing you to realise and accept that every situation has at least two sides. This consciousness helps build resilience and grit, which are needed even in adversity. It can help turn negatives into positives, frustrations into fulfilments, dead ends into renaissances, and despair into optimism. Here is how to achieve this:

List up to ten negative emotions that went through you in the past week.

Identify the circumstances or situations that led to these emotions.

Flip their root causes in a way that brings about positive emotions.

Read also: The leadership imperative: Rethinking evaluations and reward systems

For example, a promotion list just came out, and your name was not on it. The absence of your name does not necessarily mean you should be sad, probably because you were promoted six months ago. It would be nice for those who were not considered then to have their day filled now. However, there may be another circumstance that would justify your negative emotions. Kindly check the call to action for such a scenario while you attempt to share how you would flip the negative emotions experienced.

 

Call to action

A promotion list just came out at your workplace, and your name was missing despite being long overdue. What would you do? How would you turn the negative emotions of disappointment and sadness into positives? Kindly send your responses to [email protected]

Olayinka Opaleye is a Wellbeing Specialist and Corporate Wellness Strategist. She writes from Lagos. Tel: 09091131150 or follow her on www.linkedin.com/in/olayinkaopaleye