I believe there are 6 characteristics needed to be a great critical thinker. Sure there may be more but together these are powerful. Do you have them?
1. Curiosity. Allow yourself to be curious. Great critical thinkers tune into their desire to continue learning and understanding how things work. Be inquisitive about anything and ask questions others may have but don’t ask.
2. Humility. Great critical thinkers understand that their ideas may not be the best and that they do not know everything. I once had a fortune cookie that told me, “knowledge comes from being humble” – that once you accept that you don’t know everything you’re more likely to continue your search for answers.
3. Ability to research. Don’t have an answer? Aren’t satisfied with an answer? Does something sound a little off? The ability to research things and bring in multiple resources will unveil a lot.
4. Active Listening. Don’t just hear what others have to say, engage in conversation.
5. Objectivity. Great critical thinkers have the ability to remain objective. They understand the goal, stay focused and don’t let their emotions (or others’) cloud their judgment.
6. Creativity. Allow yourself to be creative. Brainstorming without judgment can spark amazing ideas. Thinking outside the box may create a solution. Sometimes denying ourselves this freedom holds us back more than we’d like to think.
You may critically think and not possess one or more of these powerhouse characteristics. You may even be a good critical thinker and not possess some of these. Or you may value other characteristics and skill sets more. But take a moment and recognize the benefits these offer. Now think of the people you believe to be great critical thinkers. Do they have these characteristics? My guess is yes. Evaluate yourself – do you have these powerhouse characteristics?
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Elizabeth Pauker-Silva