If you could always look at a problem objectively and have the patience to learn from the opinions and ideas of others, you would consider this a valuable skill, wouldn’t you?
Well, it’s this very skill that makes a high-level or critical thinker so unique because they have the self-awareness and knowledge to deal with challenges rationally rather than emotionally.
This process might be time-consuming because they pay attention to every minor detail, but it certainly broadens their views and helps them see the bigger picture.
A high-level or critical thinker is analytical, and they’re always on a mission to learn new things. They want to figure out the hows and whys of a problem and use strategic ways of thinking to find a solution or draw a conclusion.
If you want to know if someone is a high-level thinker, they display these 9 subtle behaviors that are sure to help you hone in on your critical thinking skills.
Let’s take a look.
1) They embrace uncertainty.
It’s hard to adapt to change because we don’t know what the outcome will be when things don’t go as planned. Problems create high levels of anxiety in response to fear, and this obscures our ability to think clearly.
But as a critical thinker, you equip yourself to accept ambiguity and embrace uncertainty rather than fear it.
Their rational position helps them maintain mental focus, and they know just how to regulate their emotions even if the outcome is not as expected. That’s because high-level thinkers recognize that every coin has two sides.
They can accept change because they approach it with an open mind.
In the face of adversity, you’ll find that critical thinkers spend a significant amount of time analyzing problems to create their own solutions.
If they already have the necessary information based on previous experience and knowledge, they will navigate their way through change without becoming stuck or overly anxious about their circumstances.
2) They have a natural curiosity.
Top-level thinkers are driven by their need to constantly discover and understand their world. They’re driven by an innate curiosity that motivates them to venture outside of their comfort zone and find the answer they’re looking for.
You only need to look at a few of the world’s most famous leaders and critical thinkers, including Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and Henry Ford, to understand how their curiosity led to the development of theories and applications that continue to influence contemporary ways of thinking.
Even Albert Einstein was described as a loner; despite having good relationships with friends and family, he spent much of his alone time analyzing concepts and exploring theory to satisfy his curiosity.
Deep thinkers tend to contemplate life, and they spend a significant amount of time on their own while deep in thought.
Their desire for discovery leads to quiet time to analyze and understand a problem, but they will not hesitate to reach out to those with a different frame of reference to come to their conclusions.
3) They are keen observers.
Critical thinkers pay attention to everything around them. One of their more subtle behaviors is their keen sense of observation, whether in conversation or while sitting quietly in a room full of people.
When you aren’t looking, these individuals are paying immense attention to documentation, and they learn how to store information about their environment by tuning into their senses.
Sight, smell, touch, and everything around them are important and part of their mission to gain a deeper understanding of how the world works.
Not only are they cognizant of their physical world, but also the people in it.
High-level thinkers rely on evidence and rational thinking to make inferences; however, they will observe their body language and mannerisms when learning new ideas from others. They rely on cues and will usually investigate their environment.
These insights help them broaden their knowledge and skills in support of their analytical way of thinking.
4) They take time to introspect.
There’s one subtle behavior that every deep thinker performs, and that is their ability to self-reflect and introspect.
Being such self-aware people, deep thinkers spend their time thinking about thinking. I know this sounds a bit confusing, but it means being attentive and aware of how you think about things.
While such individuals can conduct conversations and present arguments, they need solitude to assess their thoughts and decipher their biases.
You might catch them in a moment of introspection during a debate as they pause between their comments and feedback to think deeply about what they want to say.
Even the most successful people introspect because it helps them better understand their profession and improves their confidence.
5) They’re excellent listeners.
To communicate clearly and problem-solve, a critical thinker must have active listening skills. While they may have a lot to say, they know when it’s time to listen, even if the person they’re listening to has an opposing view.
You simply cannot think critically if you cannot listen to the thoughts and facts presented by someone else.
Along with listening attentively to others, deep thinkers aren’t passive. They ask questions and know when to give someone else the floor to fully express their opinions.
These individuals will not cut another person off while they’re talking because they will learn nothing, and it will only serve as a sign of arrogance and ignorance.
6) They have open-body language.
If your goal is to absorb as much information as possible and develop your own problem-resolution skills, you must be receptive to other people.
This is one aspect of critical thinkers that many don’t think about, but these individuals are not closed to the ideas and opinions of others.
Regardless of who they’re talking to, they have strong and open body language, which includes making consistent eye contact, maintaining an upright posture, and turning their bodies toward the people they’re communicating with.
In everything they say and do, right down to their body language, high-level thinkers are always motivated to understand what someone else thinks and why they think the way they do.
You might not notice at first, but they are clear communicators who are calm and thoughtful.
Such intelligent individuals will make others feel comfortable using their body language alone because it creates more opportunities for them to learn.
7) They are altruistic.
Most people see deep thinkers as cold with little time for others, but when you aren’t paying attention, these individuals are truly altruistic.
Altruistic people are selfless and put the needs of others before their own. As a high-level thinker, you’re receptive to the ideas and motivations of someone else. In other words, you have to care about what other people think and say.
They apply the same principle and way of reasoning when listening to others because they have empathy.
When you’re taught to think critically, you analyze a problem from all angles, which includes being mindful of the other person’s take on a particular topic. While this is a necessary approach in formal conversations and debates, they listen with great care to the needs and interests of their friends and family, too.
8) They’re creative.
When you can think deeply, you’re not rigid. You might prefer evidence over “trusting your instincts,” nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a creative bone in your body.
Deep thinkers create solutions to problems, so when an obstacle presents itself, rather than completely thwart their plans, they get creative.
These critical and quick thinkers see endless possibilities, so rather than get stumped by a spanner in the works, they put their analytical hat on and think of an innovative way to resolve an issue.
In marketing, the creativity of critical thinkers is imperative in helping generate fresh perspectives and new ideas. Their creativity also helps them become inspirational leaders who are resilient and compassionate.
9) They’re open-minded.
If you observed a high-level thinker in a debate, you would notice a relaxed yet passionate person who takes their time in responding while respecting the ideas of others.
Their open-mindedness stops them from interjecting so they can see the bigger picture.
It eliminates personal biases from getting in the way of forming an objective opinion and siding with one or the other.
It’s a very subtle behavior that helps critical thinkers form sound conclusions rather than be influenced by their ideas and emotions.
They take the time to listen and learn from others, which requires keeping an open mind.
I think I would best describe a critical thinker as a very deep and intelligent individual who’s motivated by discovery and is always curious to learn about the world.
When presented with a problem, they don’t allow their emotions to get the better of them, and they take the time to consider the pros and cons before making a decision or coming to a conclusion.
While the ability to think so deeply and analytically is certainly a skill, constantly trying to figure out the finer details consumes a lot of energy that can become stressful over time.
It’s all about balance and using this incredible skill to your advantage.
Now that you’re aware of the 9 subtle behaviors of a high-level thinker, you can focus on developing your own critical thinking skills.
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