13 Simple Steps to Improve Critical Thinking Skills

With our daily bombardment of information — and the prevalence of fake news and social media bubbles — the ability to look at evidence, assess the credibility of sources and think critically is more important than ever. This is why, for me, critical thinking is one of the most important skills to develop for future success.

Critical thinking is not about being constantly negative or critical of everything.its about objectivity And have an open, curious mind. Critical thinking is analyzing a problem based on hard evidence (rather than personal opinion, bias, etc.) in order to gain a thorough understanding of the problem. real continue. And from this insight, you can make better decisions and solve problems more effectively.

In other words, critical thinking means drawing your own well-thought-out conclusions, rather than taking information at face value. Here are 13 ways to develop this valuable skill:

1. Always review new information with caution. Whether it’s an article someone shared online or data related to your work, always check the information you receive. Good questions to ask here include: “Is this information complete and up-to-date?” “What evidence is presented to support this argument?” and “Whose voice is missing here?”

2. See where the information comes from. Is the source reliable? What is their motivation for providing this information? For example, are they trying to sell you something or get you to take some kind of action (like voting for them)?

3. Consider multiple perspectives. Everyone has their own opinions and motives – even high-IQ people making arguments that sound reasonable, have personal opinions and biases that influence their thinking. So when someone gives you information, consider if there are other aspects to the story.

4. Practice active listening. Listen carefully to what other people tell you and try to get a clear sense of their point of view. Empathy is a very useful skill here, as putting yourself in the other person’s shoes can help you understand where they come from and what they might want. Try to listen without judgment – remember, critical thinking is all about keeping an open mind.

5. Collect additional information as needed. Whenever you find gaps in information or data, do your own research to fill those gaps. The next few steps will help you do this objectively…

6. Ask lots of open-ended questions. Curiosity is a key characteristic of a critical thinker, so lead your inner child to ask lots of “who,” “what,” and “why” questions.

7. Find your own reputable sources of information, such as established news sites, nonprofits, and educational institutions. Try to avoid anonymous sources or sources with axe grinds or products for sale. Also, be sure to check when the information was posted. Older sources may have inadvertently provided incorrect information simply because events have occurred since publication; confirm information with newer sources.

8. Try not to get news from social media. If you do see something on social media that piques your interest, please check the story for accuracy (via a reputable source, as above) before sharing it.

9. Learn to recognize fake news. Spotting false or misleading content isn’t always easy, but a good rule of thumb is to look at the language, emotion, and tone of an article. For example, does it use emotional language and try to make you feel a certain way? Also, look at sources for facts, figures, images, and quotes. A legitimate news story will clearly state its source.

10. Learn to spot biased information. Like fake news, biased information may appeal to your emotions and/or limited perceptions of the subject more than logic. So ask yourself, “Is there more to this topic than presented here?” Do your own reading around the topic to build the complete picture.

11. Question your own biases. Everyone is biased and pretending doesn’t make any sense. The trick is to think objectively about your likes and dislikes, preferences, and beliefs, and consider how these might affect your thinking.

12. Form your own opinion. Remember, critical thinking is about thinking independently. So, once you’ve evaluated all the information, form your own conclusions.

13. Continue to develop 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 bias.

Read more about critical thinking and other essential skills in my new book, Future Skills: 20 Skills and Competencies Everyone Needs to Succeed in the Digital World. Written for anyone who wants to surf the digital transformation wave rather than be overwhelmed by it, this book explores why these vital future skills are important and how to develop them.

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