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Think Smarter: Critical Thinking to Improve Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills by Michael Kallet

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9 Anticipatory Thinking

What's Next?

Imagine the following scenario: you're at home with a significant other who says, “Can you please go to the grocery store and get a dozen eggs?” You agree and drive to the grocery store for some eggs. Shortly after you return, your housemate says, “We have that party to go to tonight. Can you please pick up the dry cleaning?” Again you agree, and off you go to retrieve the dry cleaning. As you return to your house, you start thinking about that party and realize you probably should bring a small gift. Out you go again, back to the grocery store, to buy a thank you card. Later that evening, you and your housemate get in the car to drive to the party. You notice the gas gauge is low, and although stopping for gas will make you a little late, you have no choice but to stop at the gas station.

Rewind. Imagine if the conversation were this: “Can you please pick up a dozen eggs, and while you are out, can you also pick up the dry cleaning, because we have that party tonight?” You then think to yourself, “Hmm, party tonight. I probably should pick up a card while at the grocery store and check to see if I need gas. I can fill up at the same time.” Imagine how much time you would have saved!

Anticipatory thinking is a way to stimulate thinking about consequences and related tasks that you may not have initially contemplated. Basically, it entails asking what's next. What's after that? What will happen if I do this? What might be the reaction if I say ...

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