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Critical Thinking Tools: PRECISION

Once we begin to use clarity in our thinking and communication, we should pull out the tool called PRECISION.  I’ve been guilty of not using this tool,  all of the time.  In that very statement, “I’ve been guilty of not using  this tool,  all of the time,” there is clarity of thought, in the idea I am trying to convey, but it lacks precision.  Using terms like “always, never, all of the time,” etc. are lacking in precision.



I remember in high school, a friend of mine had just started dating his girlfriend, and she was having a really bad day.  He asked her, “What’s wrong?” She replied, “EVERYTHING!”  (I’ve said the same thing on occasion, especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed.) My friend asked her, “What can I do to help?” She replied, “NOTHING!”

Man Down! Yikes!

Today, let’s be on the lookout for whenever we, ourselves, use imprecise language and imprecise thinking that causes it.  It’s also fun to look for it in others as well, just don’t be the “precision police”.  Our purpose is to be practicing our own thinking skills.  Whenever you identify imprecision, ask these questions to help become more precise in your thinking:

Could I provide more details? (“Everything” suddenly becomes only one or two things.)

Could I be more specific?  (“Always” suddenly becomes once a week, “I always wash the dishes” – “I wash the dishes once a week”.)

Could I be more exact? (“I haven’t eaten anything all day” becomes 1500 calories of sodas and snacks.)

I have found that writing things down really helps me with precision.  I used to keep a running log when I was training for marathons.  Without it, over the course of a month, I would have had no way to be precise with my training plan, I just knew that I ran “all the time” and “everyday”.   Precision also helps keep down the late fees on the bills, and overdraft fees on the bank account too, just saying.

Boo Yah!!

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