Be the wind in the SAILs of critical thinking

A useful mnemonic to empower Critical Thinking

A useful mnemonic to empower Critical Thinking
S is for SAFETY
Create psychological safety. Make the conversation confidential. Be clear that the conversation is not being recorded, that you won’t play it back at a performance review, explain you’re going to listen, not evaluate, and want to hear their thoughts. Be clear how much time you can allocate them.
Useful questions: What do you want to think through? What are your thoughts?
The quality of our thinking is directly proportionate to the quality of the attention we receive. So remove distractions – put your phone on airplane mode, shut down tabs or browsers, close the door, log out of instant messaging apps. Do not interrupt. Be present, give them your full undivided attention. Breathe, relax, listen and look at them.
No useful questions – just pay attention to what they are saying and how they say it.
Some of you will be thinking no way, Kahneman disproved the merit of intuition, but if you’re genuinely giving your attention to your colleague, then your intuition will draw on what you’re unconsciously noticing, what’s happening in that moment, and help inform your response so it supports their thinking. Great responses include: Silence and pauses; A short powerful question; Reflecting back what you’ve heard; naming an emotion you’ve noticed.
Useful question: What more?
L is for LET GO
They don’t need to be fixed, they’ll find the solution or next piece of the puzzle. Liberate them to think, liberate yourself from feeling obliged to find the solution.
Useful question near the end of the time you’ve allocated to their thinking: What now?
My definition of critical thinking is “Thinking that’s essential for us to thrive”. While this definition may be broad, it allows us to go beyond, but not ignore, the more traditional definition of “disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence”. In order for our critical thinking to be outstanding, in order for us to thrive, we need managers to demonstrate the SAIL components.
Be the wind in the SAILs of critical thinking for your team members!



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