With the sheer volume of information we’re exposed to on a daily basis — and with the spread of fake news and social media bubbles — the ability to look at evidence, assess source credibility, and think critically is even more important. since when. This is why, for me, critical thinking is one of the most important skills to develop for future success.
Critical thinking is not about always being negative or critical of everything. Around Objectivity Having an open and inquisitive mind. Critical thinking is the analysis of issues based on compelling evidence (as opposed to personal opinions, biases, etc.) in order to build a comprehensive understanding of what is truly is happening. And from this place of comprehensive understanding, you can make better decisions and solve problems more effectively.
In other words, critical thinking means arriving at your carefully considered conclusions rather than taking information at face value. Here are 13 ways you can cultivate this precious skill:
1. Always check new information with a careful eye. Whether it’s an article someone shared online or data related to your business, always check the information you’ve provided. Good questions to ask here include, “Is this information complete and up-to-date?” What evidence is provided to support the argument? and “whose voice is missing here?”
2. Look at the source of the information. Is the source trustworthy? What is their motivation for providing this information? For example, are they trying to sell you something or get you to take a certain action (such as voting for them)?
3. Consider more than one point of view. Everyone has their own opinions and motivations – even the smartest people who make seemingly plausible arguments have personal opinions and biases that shape their thinking. So, when someone gives you information, think about whether there are other sides to the story.
4. Practice active listening. Listen carefully to what other people are saying to you, and try to get a clear picture of their point of view. Empathy is a really useful skill here because putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can help you understand where they come from and what they might want. Try to listen without judgment – remember that critical thinking is about keeping an open mind.
5. Gather additional information when needed. Whenever you identify gaps in information or data, do your own research to fill in those gaps. The next few steps will help you do it objectively…
6. Ask lots of open questions. Curiosity is a key trait of critical thinkers, so guide your inner child and ask lots of “who,” “what,” and “why” questions.
7. Find your own reputable sources of information, such as established news sites, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions. Try to avoid unknown sources or sources with an ax to grind or sell a product. Also, be sure to check when the information was posted. An older source may inadvertently provide false information simply because events have continued since their publication; Make sure the information is with a more recent source.
8. Try not to get your news from social media. And if you see something on social media that interests you, check the accuracy of the story (via reputable sources of information, as above) before sharing it.
9. Learn to spot fake news. It’s not always easy to spot false or misleading content, but a good general rule of thumb is to look at the language, emotion, and tone of the piece. Do you use emotionally charged language, for example, and try to make you feel a certain way? Also look at sources for facts, figures, photos, and quotes. A legitimate news story that will clearly state its sources.
10. Learn to spot biased information. Like fake news, biased information may seek to appeal to your feelings more than logic and/or provide a limited view of the topic. So ask yourself, “Is there more to this topic than what is being presented here?” Do your own reading on the topic to create the full picture.
11. Question your own biases, too. Everyone has prejudices, and there is no point in pretending otherwise. The trick is to think objectively about your likes, dislikes, preferences, and beliefs, and consider how they affect your thinking.
12. Form your own opinions. Remember that critical thinking is about independent thinking. So once you have evaluated all the information, form your own conclusions about it.
13. Keep working on your critical thinking skills. I recommend checking out online learning platforms like Udemy and Coursera for courses on general critical thinking skills, as well as courses on specific topics like cognitive biases.
Read more about critical thinking and other essential skills in my new book, Future Skills: The 20 Skills and Competencies Everyone Needs to Succeed in a Digital World. Written for those who want to navigate the wave of digital transformation – rather than drown in it – the book explores why these vital future skills are important and how to develop them.