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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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        Last Updated on October 16, 2019

        Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

        Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

        Do you like making mistakes?

        I certainly don’t.

        Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

        Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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        Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

        Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

        • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
        • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
        • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
        • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

        We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

        If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

        Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

        Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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        When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

        Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

        We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

        It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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        Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

        Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

        Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

        1. Point us to something we did not know.
        2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
        3. Deepen our knowledge.
        4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
        5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
        6. Inform us more about our values.
        7. Teach us more about others.
        8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
        9. Show us when someone else has changed.
        10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
        11. Remind us of our humanity.
        12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
        13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
        14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
        15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
        16. Invite us to better choices.
        17. Can teach us how to experiment.
        18. Can reveal a new insight.
        19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
        20. Can serve as a warning.
        21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
        22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
        23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
        24. Remind us how we are like others.
        25. Make us more humble.
        26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
        27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
        28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
        29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
        30. Expose our true feelings.
        31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
        32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
        33. Point us in a more creative direction.
        34. Show us when we are not listening.
        35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
        36. Can create distance with someone else.
        37. Slow us down when we need to.
        38. Can hasten change.
        39. Reveal our blind spots.
        40. Are the invisible made visible.

        Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

        The secret to handling mistakes is to:

        • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
        • Have an experimental mindset.
        • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

        When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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        When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

        It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

        When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

        Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

        Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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        Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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