Critical thinking turns a muddle into a convincing argument

Colleen Trolove | April 6, 2016

Last week, my lawyer got me to write an application to the Court. I had to fill out a template she emailed me. It was a great template — clearly defined sections with descriptive headings. So I launched straight in.

Five hours later, I went home for dinner knowing I’d written a dog’s breakfast.

Enter critical thinking

I was chatting to Mum later that night about some coaching I’d delivered recently … on critical thinking. The penny dropped. Out came some blank paper. One mind-map later, I could see why my argument seemed weak. I’d missed critical pieces of information, and I’d put my supporting points into the template in random places.

Speedy rewrite

The rewrite that I’d been dreading only took an hour. I started off with the answer to the primary question (thanks, Barbara Minto!) and re-ordered my argument. I itemised my main points and put the supporting information under each of the main points in descending order of importance. I added in the missing details.

Image, sign of logical argument.

Logical argument. Image by Martha Soukup / CC BY

The repetition vanished. The document flowed. It was logical and convincing — to me, anyway. Let’s hope it works for a judge!

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