If someone talks about these 6 things, they’re probably a high-level thinker

Have you ever wondered if you’re a high-level thinker?

The world is full of examples of people who aren’t as smart as they think they are, but the reverse is also true. Plenty of people have never been taught to think of themselves as intelligent or as a high-level thinker – even when they are.

High-level thinkers have minds that move beyond simply learning facts. 

Instead, they take apart ideas and reassemble them, gathering information from diverse sources and applying critical thinking to increase their knowledge of any given subject.

High-level thinking is something that can be taught. And there are some telltale signs I’ve learned to tell if someone is already a high-level thinker.

In this article, we’ll review some of the things high-level thinkers tend to talk about that show there is more going on in their heads than it might seem at first. 

Once you’ve learned the signs, you’ll be able to spot a high-level thinker a mile away.

1) They debate ideas

Have you ever noticed how the things people talk about give them away? I have. You can tell a lot about a person by the conversation they choose to make.

An old saying states that small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, and great minds discuss ideas

That may be a little unfair, but it’s true that high-level thinkers tend to be more interested in the big picture than in daily goings-on.

There’s a reason for that. 

Being a high-level thinker means taking in everything you see, hear, and experience and applying critical thinking methods to get to the truth. 

That gives them the ability to take a broader view of anything, from politics and world affairs to pop culture to art and science.

If you know someone who tends to talk about big ideas rather than gossip about others, it’s a good sign that they are high-level thinkers. But there are lots more signs, including…

2) They change their minds

An essential part of critical thinking is the ability to change your mind due to new information. Ultimately, that’s what high-level thinking is all about.

High-level thinkers know how to:

  • Clarify their thoughts;
  • Question the sources of their information;
  • Identify arguments both for and against an idea;
  • Analyze the sources of those arguments to determine bias;
  • Evaluate the arguments based on this information;
  • And create their own arguments based on the information they have analyzed.

Staying open-minded is a key part of being a high-level thinker. 

This idea goes back to Socrates, one of the most famous high-level thinkers in history, who argued that anyone who desires the truth must be willing to follow an argument wherever it leads.

That means not getting so attached to your own ideas that you leave no room for doubt. 

A high-level thinker can often demonstrate their advanced thought processes by being willing to change their mind when confronted with new evidence.

That often makes them high achievers in the workplace and in other areas of life. Partly, that’s also because:

3) They ask questions

Have you ever spent time with small children? I have, and I can tell you that you get real tired of being asked “Why?” really quickly.

But there’s a reason why kids always ask questions. It’s the best way to learn new things

That’s because young children have the whole world to learn about in a fairly short time, and they get there by asking endless questions, then analyzing the answers they are given.

High-level thinkers maintain that childlike curiosity and open-mindedness into their adult years, and it makes them idea-formulating machines.

You can also spot a high-level thinker by the kind of questions they ask.

That’s because critical thinkers want to get to the heart of the matter and understand the ideas and motivations behind any event you might tell them about. 

And that’s not all. They also question the sources of information as part of the critical thinking process. 

If you know someone who never seems satisfied with a story and always wants to know more about the facts behind it, you may well be dealing with a high-level thinker.

4) They deal in facts

If someone talks about these things theyre probably a high level thinker 1 If someone talks about these 6 things, they’re probably a high-level thinker

High-level thinkers are highly critical. That doesn’t mean they are negative or pessimistic. Instead, it means they don’t take anything for granted, but question everything.

For that reason, high-level thinkers are often more comfortable when they know the facts of a situation. Instead of relying on opinion and hearsay, they will often try to find evidence for any position before they agree or disagree. That makes their opinions highly logical and evidence-based.

High-level thinkers are critical thinkers, but…

5) They can criticize without attacking

Being a critical thinker doesn’t mean finding fault with everything.

Instead, critical thinkers use their high-level thinking skills to question the information they receive and determine whether it’s true or false based on the evidence. Not taking anything at face value means they can get to the truth of any subject far more effectively than people who believe what they hear without analyzing it any further.

It can be uncomfortable having your opinions probed like this. 

But critical thinkers aren’t trying to dismiss your ideas or make you feel small by questioning you. Instead, they are trying to get to the truth and refine their own thought processes to make sure they reach the correct conclusion.

And the best high-level thinkers are able to do that without upsetting the people they talk to. That’s because…

6) They can take criticism of their own ideas

A high-level thinker probably doesn’t have a single idea they haven’t examined with in-depth critical thinking. 

In fact, they will often be the harshest critic of their own ideas. 

In practice, that means they draw a sharp line between their ideas and their sense of self, and don’t feel attacked when someone disagrees with them.

True high-level thinkers welcome critical scrutiny, because it helps them refine their own positions and arguments. 

And there’s more. 

If a high-level thinker extends that same respect to you, it means they respect your ability to have your ideas criticized and see you as an equal. Take it as a compliment!

Spotting a high-level thinker

We can’t see inside each other’s heads. That means we never really know about the thought processes going on, even with the people we know best.

However, a person’s conversations can say a lot about them. And by looking for these telltale signs, you can spot if someone is a high-level thinker based on the way they talk – and the things they choose to talk about.

If someone you know likes to debate ideas, keeps an open mind, and applies critical thinking to any information they receive, chances are good you’re talking to a high-level thinker

Maybe you’re even one yourself.

Picture of Ryan Frawley

Ryan Frawley

Ryan Frawley is a France-based writer with a passion for psychology, philosophy, science, and anything that attempts to answer life’s biggest questions.

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