Enhance Your Critical Thinking Skills With These Socratic Questions

Enhance Your Critical Thinking Skills with These Socratic Questions

Critical thinking is crucial for making better decisions and effective communication. You can consistently think more critically about a topic or opinion, and explore new perspectives, by using Socratic questions.

Picture: Jirka Matousek/Flickr

Considering other people's thought processes can improve your empathy and social intelligence. For example, you can use these questions to explore a topic or decision and consider different viewpoints. from different viewpoints:

  • What would be an alternative?
  • What is another way to look at it?
  • Would you explain why it is necessary or beneficial, and who benefits?
  • Why is [this] the best?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of...?
  • How are...and ...similar?
  • What is a counterargument for...?

Socratic questions were devised by Greek philosopher Socrates to guide seek meaning and truth, clarify assumptions, and logically draw more precise implications. In addition to enhancing your critical thinking, you use socratic questions to win arguments.

The Six Types of Socratic Questions [University of Michigan]


    I like the idea of Socratic questions like this. I find them especially helpful to diffuse potential conflict, so instead of accusing, you can ask an open question.

    I try to use a similar approach in the field of IT when I have to do some troubleshooting. Here are 8 questions I ask when I come up against a technical problem.

    Not sure if these questions are strictly Socratic, but they do try to open you up to new approaches, and often that will help solve the problem.

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