I teach an advanced freshman composition class and one of the texts I'm using is "Becoming a Critical Thinker" by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. It's a decent text, for college, I think.
But, the most noteworthy part I've come across so far is the bit titled "Guidelines for Successful Relationships". Okay, so the connection of this to a text about critical thinking is tenuous at best, but suspend your disbelief and read on.
1. Acknowledge other people. This means smile, greet, make eye contact with those around you.
2. Be generous with compliments, stingy with criticism and/or advice.
3. Keep your moods to yourself. I'm sure the author means negative moods. Positive, upbeat moods should be trumpeted, I think.
4. Expect more of yourself and less of others. This seems to dovetail with the highly useful adage "You can't change others, you can only change yourself."
5. Make allowances for differences of opinion.
6. Be sensitive to others' feelings. Stay away from things that insult, ridicule, or humiliate others.
7. Balance talking with listening.
8. Think before speaking. Personally, I think this one could have its own chapter. It's very vague and non-directional. It sounds so easy, and if it were so, wouldn't we all just be doing it? It reminds of the advice of "eat less".
9. Purge negative emotions.
10. Refrain from gossiping.
11. Apologize when you are wrong.
12. Forgive when you are wronged.
13. Be a peacemaker.
14. Meet your responsibilities to others. Do what you say you're going to do.
15. Look for opportunities to be kind.
Wow, huh? Is it even possible? What would someone who did all of these things automatically be like? Somebody I couldn't stand? Somebody I couldn't be comfortable around? Somebody I'd take a bullet for?
See - the bummer here is these above behaviors, I think, are not reinforced much in our society. If you watch 'Desperate Housewives', being nice is not fun, it's not sexy. And, I tell you what, it's hard to do because most of these behaviors were not modeled very well for us.
But, we'll work on it!
So, here's your assignment (channeling Teacher right now!): Which of these are you better at? Which ones do you implement into your daily lives? Which ones do you struggle to master?