Add the tool of questioning to your Thinking Framework.
Ignoring questions will lead to several thinking fallacies. We might build our understanding on ambiguity and false assumptions. Fortunately, we can always develop the practice of paying attention to the questions. If we start testing ourselves intentionally and mindfully avoid ignoring questions, we will be well on our way to becoming an effective thinker.
- Ask questions even if you know the answer.
By asking questions like, "What if...", we can see more and delve deeper toward understanding. These questions force us to clarify our understanding and discover our blind spots.
- Acknowledge all questions, even the "silly" ones.
Our mind rationalizes basic questions by considering them "silly". However, experts are able to clearly answer any and all questions.
- Ask yourself, "What's the real question here?"
Be mindful of your internal biases - trying to answer abstract or vague questions is a losing game. For example, "How can I become successful?" is a vague question because success is subjective. Instead, ask yourself, "What does success mean to me?" or "What skills do I need to achieve my goal?"
- When starting a new project, clarify the end.
The answers to these questions will help you keep the bigger picture in mind:
- What is the goal of this?
- What are the possible benefits I gain by working on this?
- Catch yourself when you pretend to know something but you actually don't.
This is a recipe for disaster. When you find a question or topic that you don't know the answer to, make an effort to understand it. Don’t hesitate to seek other's help.
- Force yourself to raise questions when reading, watching or listening to something.
For example, if you are listening to a lecture, instead of passively listening and simply taking in what you hear, simultaneously reflect on the content itself. You can use “what if” questions or determine your motivation or the alternatives. The possibilities are endless.
- Develop questions to test your knowledge before an exam, interview, or presentation.
Create a possible list of questions you'll encounter. Emulate the conditions of your exam, interview or presentation (quiet room, good lighting, etc) and answer these questions once you feel confident enough. Then, use your questions and answers to teach this content to someone else, and ask them whether your explanations are clear.
- If you are giving a lecture or a presentation, ask the audience to generate at least one question about the topic at the end.
This forces them to shift from being passive listeners to active listeners. And active listeners listen more effectively.
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