Upgrading Thinking by being able to assess their use of these elements of thinking.
All the eight “parts” or elements (purpose, problem, assumptions, point of view, evidence, concepts, inferences and conclusions, consequences) of our statements and thoughts when verbalized and finalized have to be: Clear, Accurate, Precise, Relevant, Deep, Broad, Logic, Significant, Fair.
Good Thinking has to meet Nine Universal Intellectual Standards: Clarity, Accuracy, Precision, Relevance, Depth, Breath, Logicalness, Significance, Fairness.
These universal intellectual standards must be applied to thinking whenever one is interested in checking the quality of reasoning about a problem, issue, or situation. To think critically entails having command of these standards. To help Clients learn them, Coaches should pose questions which probe Client thinking; questions which hold Clients accountable for their thinking; questions which, through consistent use by the Coach in the Coaching Conversation sessions, become internalized by Clients as questions they need to ask themselves.
The ultimate goal, then, is for these questions to become infused in the thinking of Clients, forming part of their inner voice, which then guides them to better and better reasoning. While there are many universal standards, the following nine are some of the most essential:
CLARITY – Questions that focus on clarity include:
- Could you elaborate on that point?
- Could you express that point in another way?
- Could you give me an example?
- Let me state in my own words what I think you just said. Tell me if I am clear about your meaning
Clarity is the gateway standard. If a statement is unclear, we cannot determine whether it is accurate or relevant. In fact, we cannot tell anything about it because we don’t yet know what it is saying. For example, the question, “What can be done about the effectiveness of our middle management staff?” is unclear. In order to address the question adequately, we would need to have a clearer understanding of what the person asking the question is considering the “problem” to be. A clearer question might be “What can our upper management do to ensure that our middle managers have the skills and abilities which help them function successfully on the job and in their daily decision-making?”
ACCURACY – Questions focusing on making thinking more accurate include:
- Is that really true?
- How could we check to see if that is accurate?
- How could we find out if that is true?
- How could we verify or test that?
PRECISION – Questions focusing on making thinking more precise include:
- Could you give me more details?
- Could you be more specific?
- What precisely is the problem?
- What exactly are the variables that bear on the problem?
RELEVANCE – Questions focusing on relevance include
- How is this idea connected to the question?
- How does that bear on the issue?
- How does that help us with the issue?
- How does that relate to the problem?
DEPTH – Questions focusing on depth of thought include
- What are some of the difficulties we need to deal with?
- What factors make this difficult?
- How are you taking into account the problems in the question or issue?
- How are you dealing with the most significant factors in the problem?
BREATH – Questions focusing on making thinking broader include
- Do we need to consider another point of view?
- Is there another way to look at this question?
- What would this look like from the point of view of?
LOGICALNESS – Questions that focus on making thinking more logical include
- Does all of this fit together logically?
- How does that follow from the evidence?
- Before, you implied this, and now you are saying that. I don't see how both can be true.