What is critical thinking? Clinically defined as intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. Are you still with me?
I like Barry K Beyer’s definition. Critical thinking is making clear, reasoned judgments. This is a practical non-clinical definition. I’d like to follow up on his definition and see if I can help apply it to our everyday activities. I believe the opposite of clear reasoned judgment is cloudy thinking, non-clinically defined as unclear and unreasoned judgment. Now that was easy, wasn’t it?
I’m not demeaning those who are clinically foggy in their thought process. I have total and extensive empathy and sympathy for them. The rest of us may be able to fine tune our critical thinking process by following a few simple steps.
There are times when I’m speaking or writing when I find myself fighting unclear thinking or unreasoned judgment. When I’m aware this is happening, I stop and reflect on the “SOAR without Limits” process.
Here comes the commercial – a somewhat embellished SOAR process.
- First, be clear on your desired outcome. What result are you seeking?
- Second, recognize the issues getting in the way of achieving your desired outcome.
- Third, seek out pertinent information to mitigate the negative issues and reinforce the positive ones.
- Fourth, develop hypotheses to address the issues. What alternatives or options do you have?
- Fifth, prioritize your intended actions. Do first things first.
- Sixth, test your thinking on others. Ouch!