Critical thinking skills are now being taught at every grade level, so they must be important. But can they actually help us become better receivers? Consider a definition of critical thinking from the Foundation for Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way. People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathically.
Did you notice that the word “attempt” is in both sentences? Critical thinking isn’t easy, and it’s virtually impossible to do all the time. However, it’s worth the effort because several aspects of critical thinking relate to our ability to receive. Critical thinking requires that we not take things at face value, that we avoid jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. Receiving often requires this too. Frequently what appears to be unfortunate ends up being a blessing in disguise. Remember the character Bulldog on Frasier? Something would trigger his anger and he’d go off in a tirade only to find he misunderstood, and he’d sheepishly say, “Never mind.” With sound critical thinking we come to experience the truth that “all things [really do] work together for good.”
When we think critically we dig deeper and consider the situation from multiple perspectives. I remember a former manager of mine who used to remind us not to impose our values on others. How helpful that admonishment has been over the years! When I stay open to someone else’s view, I receive so much more than I had with just my own. Critical thinkers also don’t abandon their emotions, but they’re not ruled by them either. I recall an incident that illustrates both these points.
I was the Director of Human Resources for a non-profit hospital at the time. When the VP of Development suggested that we ask our employees to contribute to the hospital, I was adamantly opposed. Being really good at her job, she decided that educating me would be more effective than attempting to go around me. I was open to meeting with her and she completely reversed my view. Both of us kept our emotions in check, which led to better decisions and a positive outcome for all involved.
Join me next week for more ways critical thinking can bless you.