By now, we hope your students are becoming more familiar with the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking™ and how to use the traits to enhance the thinking process. The previous posting in this blog series presented a brief overview about the trait collaborate. This post features the critical thinking trait communicate.

I use clear language to express my ideas and to share information.

When students acquire an understanding of the trait communicate, they can be observed using words, actions, or explanations that are clear, specific, and accurate, exhibiting appropriate non-verbal and verbal language. You might notice that students support responses with explanations, comparisons, examples, and evidence. When working in a group, students who possess the communicate trait will demonstrate strong interaction skills as they allow for equitable participation, honor the points of view of their peers, and be attuned that their body language can convey interest in the ideas of others.

Students must be taught the importance of two-way communication when displaying the communicate trait. No matter the form of communication used—written, spoken, visual—being aware of the audience can elevate a successful delivery. Avoidance of generalizations, distortions or even vague non-descriptive words is always a good rule to follow. Your communication must be understood and clear in purpose. When speaking in a live situation, you should always probe for understanding. It is when you have something like a visual, a recording, or a written document that you must check for clarity before you release such communication. An invitation for feedback, with adjustments made on this input, can help you express yourself with language and examples that enhance your communication.

In school or in the workplace, the communicate trait is seen as individuals prepare reports, share plans, or convey proposals. Whether you find yourself in a formal or informal setting, the communicate trait will be incorporated in discussions, making decisions, imparting information, or just talking to friends. If a problem exists, you must clearly communicate the what, why, when, where, and how in order to reach a reasonable solution.

The communicate trait is observed all around us each and every day and will be a continual part of our present and future lives. The impact of what we do or do not communicate can significantly change our lives and those around us, near and far. Acquisition of the trait communicate and continuing to learn and hone our skills in how to communicate appropriately and accurately can result in success beyond our imagination.

The following questions can be asked of students to facilitate focus and application of the trait communicate. Feel free to adjust the vocabulary to promote understanding among students.

  • Do you speak clearly (e.g., elaborate, describe, concise terms, correct grammar) when you communicate to others?
  • How do you avoid the omission of important information in your communication?
  • Do you give examples about what you are communicating to help others understand what you mean?
  • Why is it important that you consider the audience to whom you are communicating? How does this awareness improve your communication?
  • How might you clarify what you are communicating to a group when participants seem confused?
  • What are examples that show how the trait communicate might be used in school, at home, in the workplace, or elsewhere in life?

In the next blog post, we’ll explore a fourth trait create.