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Critical thinking and thinking critically doesn’t mean that you have to shut everyone down or question everyone and everything. It’s much more than being downright disagreeable- it just means that you take in all information and form your own opinion.

At times, you may come to the same conclusion as others, and in other cases, you may have to disagree. Critical thinkers are independent thinkers that can separate themselves from the status quo and think about things outside of the box. During modern times, where much of society looks to “influencers” to help them form their opinions, critical thinkers are few and far between.

However, without critical thinkers, we would all be living in a giant echo chamber, and what is the fun in that?

1. Observation.

Critical thinkers don’t quickly react. Instead, they take note of circumstances and then take a step back and wait to fully understand the situation before forming an opinion.

2. Curiosity.

Curiosity and intelligence are intrinsically linked, studies have shown this. But, curiosity is also fundamental to critical thinking. To understand things- we must be curious about their inner workings. This will also help us determine and come to our conclusions.

3. They are well-informed.

Critical thinkers don’t stumble across one piece of information and then form an opinion on it. Instead, they assess the situation from all angles and try to understand something from all points of view. They are constantly researching and trying to better understand everything.

4. Objectivity.

The best critical thinkers are objective. This means that they remain unbiased towards their feelings, and make decisions based on logic, rather than emotions. Emotional thinking can get away from you, and critical thinkers understand that.

5. They are introspective.

Critical thinkers often look within and maintain awareness of their thinking patterns to understand how they think about things. This allows them to be more objective and to look at situations and circumstances from other points of view as well.

6. They need time alone.

Critical thinkers may take more time alone, not because they are introverted or even anti-social, but because they need time to unwind and focus on things in a different light.

7. They don’t passively accept.

It can be tempting to passively accept things and go with the flow, especially when you have a lot on your shoulders. But, critical thinkers know that nothing should be accepted at face value.

8. They ask questions.

Although some people don’t like to be questioned, critical thinkers don’t care. They know that asking questions is fundamental to getting the whole picture.

9. They don’t get their information from just one place.

I get so frustrated when I hear people talk about the news when they get it from one very biased source. All sources can at times be biased, even when they don’t intend to. It’s important to compare one viewpoint with another, to get the entire picture. Critical thinkers understand that.

10. They don’t miss small details.

Oftentimes, we may gaze over small and simple details, but that robs you of fully understanding any situation. Sometimes, the important aspect of any situation can be found in the details, and critical thinkers understand that.

11. They agree to disagree.

Critical thinkers know that not everyone will see things the way they do, and that’s okay. Sometimes, people view things differently, and critical thinkers can enjoy the company of people they don’t see eye to eye with. They relish differences because it helps them to see all points of view.

12. They have an open mind.

It is impossible to be a critical thinker with a closed mind. People who think critically are always open to the fact that their present mindset might not be the best. They are open to new ideas and to change.

13. They look for biases.

Critical thinkers are always trying to understand why. They look for personal bias when listening to anyone’s point of view, and know that oftentimes our emotions can sway us to perceive things the wrong way.

14. They have compassion and empathy.

Above all, critical thinkers have compassion and empathy. While you may believe that critical thinking means that there is no room for compassion or empathy, that couldn’t be further from the truth. On the contrary- sometimes, you have to put logic aside and understand where people are coming from. And the best critical thinkers can do that.