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How to Think Clearly

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How to Think Clearly

By learning to question and clarify your thoughts, you’ll improve your self-knowledge and become a better communicator.


5 min read
5 take-aways
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Commit to this effective three-step process that promotes clear thinking and delivers effective communication.

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“Explain Like I’m Five,” a subreddit community on Reddit, challenges users to break complex topics down to the level that a child can understand. Technology philosopher Tom Chatfield posits that this is an excellent exercise for clarifying your thinking on any topic. His step-by-step approach to examining your thoughts can help you uncover why you think the way you do and expose the hidden assumptions that influence your reasoning. By understanding your own thoughts, you can communicate in a more meaningful way.


Explaining a tricky concept to a child often reveals the gaps in your own knowledge.

When faced with a complicated issue, it can be illuminating to try to explain the concept to a small child. This exercise forces you to break the matter down into its most fundamental components. Often, you’ll realize that you don’t fully understand the problem.

But by employing this simple, iterative activity to clarify your thoughts, you gain a better understanding of your own reasoning process. You will uncover assumptions you hold that may interfere with clear thinking. The point is not to find one absolute truth. Rather, the aim is to help you explain your stance to yourself so that you are better equipped to communicate your ideas to others.

Take stock of your thoughts before picking them apart.

Before delving into the analysis process, take a moment to reflect. Try to relax. Notice how you feel. Watch the flow of your thoughts as though you were an objective outsider. Identify...

About the Author

Author and tech philosopher Tom Chatfield has a special interest in critical thinking. He wrote How to Think: Your Essential Guide to Clear, Critical Thought.

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    J. M. 7 months ago
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    B. -. 3 years ago
    Even Sometimes , I tend to contradict my own statement. This summary will assist me in times, Thank you.

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