Train Yourself to be a Sceptic

We all must come to opinions in order to be functional members of society. Often the people with strong opinions are the most productive. However sometimes we slide into being the "true believer", where we no longer question the opinions that we have come to. I often fall into this when it comes to certain preferred technologies in my job, and recently went through the exercise of being the skeptic in order to promote more critical analysis of my own advice as a consultant. Here are the steps I took

Determine the areas in your life in which you are a true believer. For any given topic we will all lean towards either playing the part of the sceptic or playing the part of the true believer. You need to think about the opinions, preferences, and discussions in which you play the part of the true believer. This means you make your argument by trying to prove the truthfulness of what you already believe. You can often spot this when you get defensive when challenged with opposing information.

Dedicate time to being the best sceptic that you can be. Do you find yourself in a meeting or discussion about one of the topics which you determined from the first step? Turn the discussion on it's head and argue against the opinion that you would otherwise be defending. If this type of opportunity is not available then set aside time to research alternative opinions and write out the best argument that you can for them. For me this often means researching alternative technologies that I have brushed aside for a long time.

Discover the reasons for your opinion. Now that you are nearing the end of this exercise, go back to your original opinion and revitalize it based upon what you have learned. Does it still hold up? If so you now can be less defensive and more open to criticism, knowing that your own opinions have held up to the best arguments you could throw at it. This also can give you the mental freedom to change your opinion now that you have personalized alternative view points to yourself.

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