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Published on April 16, 2018

How to Explain Things Better and Make Others Understand Your Ideas Easily

How to Explain Things Better and Make Others Understand Your Ideas Easily

Do you ever find that you understand a topic, yet you can’t explain it to anyone?

What if I told you there was a simple method you could use as a way to better understand and clearly communicate a concept or idea?

There actually is a very simple method you can use called SEE-I. This method was originally created by Richard Paul and Linda Elder and has been refined into its current state by Gerald Nosich.

So, what exactly is this method and how can you apply it?

Let’s take a look.

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What is the SEE-I method?

    SEE-I is an easy-to-use and methodological critical thinking technique assisting people in clarifying their ideas.[1] It stands for the following: State it, Elaborate, Exemplify, and Illustrate.

    Let’s examine each element of SEE-I:

    • State it: Clearly and succinctly state the concept or idea in a single sentence or two.
    • Elaborate: Explain it further in your own words.
    • Exemplify: Provide concrete examples and counter examples of the concept.
    • Illustrate: Provide a picture, diagram, metaphor or analogy of the concept.

    Essentially, SEE-I begins with a concise statement of the concept (S), followed by further elaboration in your own words (E). Then you are to provide specific examples and counter examples of the concept (E), Lastly, you end with an illustration of the concept (I).

    Let’s examine the following example of SEE-I:

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    • Concept to understand/explain: Critical Thinking
    • State it: Critical thinking is a self-directed process by which we take deliberate steps to think at the highest level of quality.
    • Elaborate: In other words, critical thinking is “thinking about thinking” (metacognition) in order to make it better.
    • Example: Critical thinking is an analysis, an evaluation, and improvement. For example, it is an analysis of thinking by focusing on the parts (or the elements); an evaluation of thinking by focusing on the quality (or the standards); an improvement of thinking by using what you have learned.
    • Illustrate: A great interactive illustration of Critical Thinking (Analysis – Evaluation – Improvement) is the Online Model for Learning the Elements and Standards of Critical Thinking.

      How to apply SEE-I to explain stuff (Step-by-step guide)

      Let’s examine a step-by-step approach you can use to apply the SEE-I method.

      Step 1. State it

      Identify the concept or idea you wish to communicate – clearly and succinctly state the concept.

      Example: Learning is the gaining of knowledge, understanding, or ability.

      Step 2. Elaborate

      Using phrases such as: “In other words,” to further expand on your concept.

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      Example: In other words, learning is a process where a person gains specific knowledge. It involves different degrees of progress. The learning process occurs through stressful repetitive perception allowing neural networks to adapt to the repetitive input. True learning is the internalization of the knowledge being learned. I know I have learned something when I can not only repeat the information, but when I can explain it, use it, and integrate it along with other knowledge.

      Step 3. Exemplify

      Using phrases such as: “For example,” to provide an example plus a counter example to your concept.

      Example: For example, a child slowly learns to ride a bike by being guided, practicing, and falling down. A counter example is repetition of the same mistakes over and over again.

      Step 4. Illustrate

      Find an image, picture, or design your own image to present your concept (i.e. use a metaphor or analogy as your illustration).

      Example: Learning is like a sponge absorbing whatever liquid it comes in contact with, yet does not get saturated.

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        Summing it up

        The SEE-I method is a way to provide a clear and concise narrative to explain any concept or idea along with an illustration. In other words, the method allows you to further paraphrase your idea while providing strong examples supporting the concept and counter examples opposing it.

        The method clearly expresses an individuals understanding of a concept through a narrative and strong illustration through the use of a metaphor or analogy. In essence, it allows you an easy (and extremely simple) way to explain anything to anyone.

        For additional information on how to use the SEE-I method, read Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum by Gerald Nosich.

        Featured photo credit: Image via Gaurav Rukhana via dribbble.com

        Reference

        [1] CriticalThinking.org: The Foundation for Critical Thinking

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        Dr. Jamie Schwandt

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        Last Updated on March 21, 2019

        11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

        11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

        Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

        You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

        But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

        To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

        It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

        “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

        The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

        In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

        Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

        1. Start Small

        The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

        Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

        Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

        Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

        Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

        Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

        It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

        Do less today to do more in a year.

        2. Stay Small

        There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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        But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

        If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

        When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

        I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

        Why?

        Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

        The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

        Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

        3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

        No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

        There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

        What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

        Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

        This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

        This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

        4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

        When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

        There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

        Peter Drucker said,

        “What you track is what you do.”

        So track it to do it — it really helps.

        But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

        5. Measure Once, Do Twice

        Peter Drucker also said,

        “What you measure is what you improve.”

        So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

        For reading, it’s 20 pages.
        For writing, it’s 500 words.
        For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
        For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

        Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

        6. All Days Make a Difference

        Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

        Will two? They won’t.

        Will three? They won’t.

        Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

        What happened? Which one made you fit?

        The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

        No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

        7. They Are Never Fully Automated

        Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

        But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

        What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

        It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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        The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

        It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

        It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

        8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

        Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

        Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

        When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

        The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

        Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

        9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

        The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

        Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

        You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

        But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

        So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

        If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

        This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

        The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

        Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

        10. Punish Yourself

        Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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        I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

        It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

        You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

        No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

        The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

        But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

        11. Reward Yourself

        When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

        Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

        The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

        After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

        If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

        Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

        If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

        In the End, It Matters

        What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

        When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

        And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

        “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

        Keep going.

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        More Resources to Help You Build Habits

        Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
        [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
        [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
        [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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