It may be important to be willing to listen to others opinions and ideas, but it is equally important to take time to research and understand the situation before you offer your thoughts and ideas on the topic at hand.
An uninformed opinion can be dangerous.
Being offended because someone uses facts to discuss your uninformed opinion can be even more catastrophic.
The other day an image scrolled through my feed showing two people arguing over a number. Depending on how you looked at the number, either person was correct.
Often, I run into this situation in my house – where two people are sitting on opposite sides of the number arguing about correctness when they are both correct.
It made me determine to stop long enough to hear the other person’s side before I shared my own.
Social Media has taught me something, but there was more I needed to learn.
The same image popped up in my feed this morning and I scrolled past without reading, only to scroll back up because I had noticed something a little different.
The amazing point I had read a few days before was marked out.
I read what had been written below the marked out lines. I read it a second time.
That’s when the real aha moment occurred.
It turns out that my perception of something doesn’t make my perception true. I knew that already, or at least that is what I’ve taught my children. But I still stumble into the place where I’m looking at a number and dictating what the number should be – because from where I stand it is right to me.
Interestingly, the #Bizapalooza chat I attended on Twitter focused on critical thinking and it brought this very image back to my mind. Critical thinking requires digging past the surface to find the roots.
Finding the Roots of the Subject
Steps for Critical Thinking
- Listen to what the others are saying and take time to hear what they are saying. Sometimes the point they are making is not the point mean. It’s confusing enough when you are writing it out so without the art of listening it becomes impossible to understand.
- Take time to think about what others are saying or sharing. It’s not just about right or wrong in most situations. There can be deeper issues at play. When you slow down and really invest some effort into thinking about things.
- Look for the original story. In the “correction” image, the writer recommends finding the person who painted the number because that person painted either a 6 or a 9 – not both. Knowing the reason behind the situation, and also finding the roots of the situation, can make it possible to critically think about the situation. It stays focused on facts instead relying on opinion.
- Check your facts. Even after you have found what looks like the heart of the story, back up what you learn with different sources. Three, verifiable sources will usually create a solid foundation of information.
- Take time to give your facts and the sources a last look to be certain you have all your ducks in a row. Much like in carpentry – where you measure more than once because if you cut it wrong (i.e. too short) you can’t add it back – in internet sharing you can’t take back what you put out there. Confirm and verify!
- Evaluate what you have learned. Is it something to put aside for future trivia games? Is it something you need to share with others? Or, more important, is it something others want to learn?
- Respond only when necessary – and even then think twice. Not everyone who is arguing wants to learn the facts. “Don’t confuse my opinion with the facts of the situation.” If your response is not necessary or specifically requested, it’s usually much better to walk away.
Opinions will always vary, and everyone will always have one. Just be sure that the opinions are based on the foundational facts before you continue.
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