No matter your role, critical thinking, the ability to effectively break down and analyze an issue to find a solution, will be core to your success. And at the heart of critical thinking is the ability to formulate effective questions. For effective questioning, start by holding your hypotheses loosely. Be willing to fundamentally reconsider your initial conclusions and do so without defensiveness. Here are a few ways to boost your ability to do this.
· Hold your hypotheses loosely. Good questions can lead you to fundamentally reconsider your initial assumptions but you have to be willing to do so without defensiveness.
· Listen more than you talk. Active listening allows you to fully grasp another point of view, making it easier to question your own assumptions and biases.
· Leave your queries open-ended. Avoid asking yes-or-no questions. Instead, try to get the respondent to open at length.
· Consider the counterintuitive. Every group needs someone who’s unafraid to challenge the status quo, in case you do need to change course.
· Sleep on it. A good night's rest can actually help your brain see a problem more clearly.
While we don’t need to ask a litany of “whys” to get to the heart of critical thinking, we should ask thoughtful, even hard, follow-up questions. It requires energy to listen hard and formulate those follow-ups, and that’s often the only way to deepen your critical understanding of a topic.
Critical thinking is at the heart of solving complex problems in new and exciting ways. Building this key skill will help you as you navigate new roles, establish yourself in your organization, or simply face a conundrum. Learn to formulate and ask questions, rather than simply answer them.
Do you practice critical thinking?
What methods do you use?
Coleman, J. (2022, April). Critical Thinking Is About Asking Better Questions. Harvard Business Review.
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