Practicing Thinking



Before you can truly get to clear communication, you need to have clear thinking. 

Neither of these “just happens” because you want it to. Generally, neither of these comes complete “right out of the box”. Our society and education system do not directly reward clear thought or effective communication. An excellent education teaches you how to think, not necessarily what to think, or what bits to repeat back when asked on a test. Learning to communicate clearly can’t take place outside an environment where you can, or need, to communicate. Being around others and learning the basics is a start, but the real learning takes place when you have to express an idea or story to someone who doesn’t have the same background or beliefs you do. This makes you shelve your assumptions. Then you have to make sure that the words and phrases you use are understood the way you use them.

This is very, very hard to do.

Here are a couple of ways you can consider to gain some practice thinking…
  • Read up on it: While there are a number of works and methodologies to assist the sharpening of your thinking skills, one of the better tried-and-true is the the Six Thinking Hats construct by Edward De Bono (here’s the Amazon link – Six Thinking Hats- Edward de Bono). While just reading about thinking won’t do it, learning the ways to approach an issue, a problem, a critical conversation and so on is helpful. The second step in a literary approach is to take on an issue, problem, area of concern or interest, and begin digging into it using the tools that De Bono lays out.
  • Writing is a way of practicing thinking: This statement is by Valeria Maltoni in her article found here. She writes,…if you can define your intent and describe the steps that will help people draw value from it, then it’s easier for you to see what needs to happen. When you write things down, you start prototyping the idea. Words are evidence. Use them on purpose.” Think about how you create content….a common process is to write down what you wish to say in a first draft. Then you go back, refine the thought, move some bits around, reword, edit, rethink, delete, rewrite, and so on….until you get to the next real draft. Then you may “put it away” for a bit, coming back to it a little later to read and consider afresh whether it communicates what you wish. Clarity and logic, along with a virtual dialogue with your reader, is the goal.
Of course, then comes the communicating your solution, belief, passion, service or product value to your audience. Are you reaching out to them in the way they wish to be communicated with? Can they understand you? Can you understand them?! Are you telling the right story?

As I mentioned, though, unless you have clear thinking, the clear communication won’t happen.

Take the time to practice thinking, and everyone benefits.

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