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critical thinking

Critical Thinking: How to develop and improve Your Thinking Skills

November 30, 2021

Introduction to critical thinking: The core skills you need to develop to become a critical thinker

What do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor, an engineer, a chef—all professions require critical thinking in order to succeed.

 

Most people are not familiar with the term “critical” or how it applies to their lives, but each person can build and improve his or her own critical thinking skills through practice.

This article will introduce different methods for teaching these crucial skills: understanding complex ideas through text analysis; using analogies as models for new knowledge acquisition, and reflecting on argumentative thinking.

Introduction

Critical thinking is a process of systematically looking at situations from different perspectives. It helps you avoid jumping to conclusions, which can often lead to misjudgment or bias in your decision-making. You then need to analyze your own thoughts and reactions in order to choose what is appropriate for you at any given time.

Basic principles of critical thinking include: Analysis, interpretation, inference, explanation, self-regulation and problem-solving

What is critical thinking – definition?

Critical thinking is a process of systematically processing information so that better decisions can be made. It is the opposite of regular everyday thinking.

Critical thinking is something that has intrigued philosophers, scientists, and even the average person.

Critical thinking is when you employ any of the intellectual tools to reach more accurate conclusions than your brain automatically would. It helps people make sense of information, build confidence in their beliefs and opinions, understand consequences for actions they take or don’t take, solve problems creatively and think about what’s happening around them.

How to develop critical thinking skills?

Do you blindly accept what is done and cannot be changed?

 

Those who have taken time to build critical thinking skills will never accept what they are told at face. Instead, they will apply their skills by asking why a thought or concept is presented in a certain way or believed to be true.

On mastering the skill, you might ask why people did such things and how it happened. If not, you will end up being a follower instead of an independent thinker.

Critical thinking improves problem-solving skills and gives you a competitive advantage in the business world.

It is a process of learning skills that can be used in day-to-day business operations.

1) Identify the problem

Our brains are incredibly impressive and can sort through information at an amazing rate.

Critical thinking is important in all aspects of life because being able to think critically can help you make better decisions. It gives us the ability to identify problems and then figure out how to solve them. Part of identifying the problem includes understanding how the problem started.

And the best way to identify a problem is by framing questions that will help you find out what kind of thinking skill you need or want, such as “What is the problem?”, “How can I solve this?” or what kind of thinking process you might need, such as a systematic approach to solving problems.

2) Determine data relevance of gathered data

Even with a clear objective, it can be difficult to determine what’s relevant.

Once you identify the problem, you skillfully conceptualize, analyze, and/or evaluate information gathered from a range of sources. It involves actively figuring out what’s going on in order to make judgments that are well-supported by available evidence.

Critical thinkers ask questions about data relevance to determine how it should be interpreted as they gather new information for their analysis. One strategy for combating this is to make a physical list of data points ranked in order of relevance.

3) Learn how to ask questions

Critical thinking confirms what you already know and enables you to approach issues from different perspectives.

Always ask questions to get the information you need. Paraphrase the information in your own words to ensure you understand everything right. The more details you have, the better your decision-making process will be. Ask follow-up questions, if necessary, to ensure you know what others are talking about and can give them an accurate response.

Analysis: Ability to collect and process information

Interpretation: Concluding what meaning of processed information is

Inference: Assessing whether knowledge is sufficient and reliable

4) Develop foresight

Foresight is the capacity to imagine possible future outcomes and to comprehend, understand, or guess at trends. Developing foresight is important to avoid making the same mistakes. It’s important that you take time to think about all possible outcomes of a decision and how it will affect your life.

Good foresight is an asset no matter what you’re trying to achieve.

It requires taking the time to look at all angles of a potential decision. If you do this, then less work needs to be put into your attempted predictions each time.

5) Identify the best possibility

You might have more than one answer that would work well for your situation. In order to identify the best solution, a cause-and-effect diagram can be drawn. The causes of the problem are identified in terms of its effects so that there is a direct connection between them.

When faced with a decision, it is important to put bias aside and approach the process logically. Sometimes this means that you have to put your personal feelings or opinions away in order for an unbiased solution to arise.

Decision matrices are a great way of identifying all of the different options between two choices so that you can identify which one would be best suited for whatever task at hand.

6) Consider pros and cons

To improve your critical thinking skills, consider the pros and cons of a decision before making it. This technique helps you to think about the different aspects of an issue without favoring one side or another discreetly.

If you’ve taken time out of your day to write down all the pros and cons on a piece of paper, then you’ll know what opportunities are available for you as well as the risks that will be associated with each decision.

7) Try Reversing Things

Another way to improve your critical thinking skills is to take a step back from a problem and look at it in reverse. For example, if you were trying to solve a difficult math equation, first start by writing down what you already know about the problem before tackling it head-on.

The chicken and egg problem is a classic example of reversing things. The answer to the question “which came first?” is not necessarily the chicken, but can rather be both.

These inferences help us make sure we don’t take anything for granted, which in turn helps us avoid making assumptions that could have a negative impact on our decision-making process.

8) Think of other interesting solutions

Thinking of new ideas stimulates the brain, which in turn leads to better problem-solving skills. It’s another way to sharpen critical thinking skills and develop your thinking skills. Map your skills with suitable tactics to reach your goals. Ask yourself what are the different ways to reach your target without worrying about implementation.

9) Consider tried and tested methods vs out of the box

When you have an idea, you’ll need to think of a method to execute it. You can either go with tried and tested methods or out-of-the-box solutions. When you have more than one method, consider which path will you choose.

A tried and tested method isn’t a guaranteed recipe for success and the out of the box approach isn’t always the best choice.

10) Minimize wasted time

The time spent on the internet is an appallingly high percentage of our total day. This could be because it’s so addictive or that we’re not taking enough breaks during the day to relax and refresh ourselves. The best way to minimize wasted time is by reducing your distractions, relaxing when you need a break, and prioritizing what really matters in life. Relaxation is critical for improving your thinking skills. Try to rest in a way that doesn’t so aggressively waste your time.

11) Analyze your decision

Critical thinking can help you avoid making stupid mistakes. Avoiding stupid mistakes is easier than seeking brilliance.

Although it is easier said than done, people should use their judgment or they will make more mistakes. Mistakes with petty reasons can be corrected in the long run because of careful planning and anticipating needs for future prospects.

What are the other benefits of Critical Thinking?

The benefits of critical thinking are many:

  • Developing ethics, confidence, and professional opinions.
  • Engaging customers on a deeper level.
  • Evaluating yourself as a specialist.
  • Leading to new solutions and perspectives.
  • Seeing hidden facts about a situation.
  • Gaining new knowledge by listening to people’s opinions.

Tips to improve critical thinking skills

 

Critical thinking skills can be improved by practicing critical analysis, which involves identifying assumptions, evaluating evidence, analyzing the argument’s structure, and comparing it with other arguments. You can improve your thinking skills by:

Training with a mentor

One should have a mentor to help develop skills and brainstorm. You must break past these restrictive thought patterns in order to increase your critical thinking skills.

When you shut down information from people or groups with whom you disagree, it will hinder progress in your thinking skills by limiting the time that they have to share their thoughts and ideas.

Instead of shutting them out, try actively listening for what is being said so that you can process it with your own personal knowledge and experience.

Taking part in team-building exercises

Critical thinking skills are improved through group exercises, which can help to develop teamwork and improve communication.

– One example of a team exercise is the “Honeywell Game”, in which players attempt to win by completing tasks that require different levels of creativity and critical thinking.

– Another example of an exercise is the “Puzzle Box”. In this game, participants match up shapes on cards with other shapes on cards while attempting to complete puzzles.

Asking for leadership opportunities

Under leadership, the person who is leading the group has to manage conflict resolution and make important decisions. Critical thinking skills are required to make important decisions.

The first step is to learn how you can weave executive function skills into daily life. This includes using your time, setting priorities and goals for yourself, noticing patterns in the world around you, and finding solutions to problems which are all crucial aspects of a healthy lifestyle.

Different models of thinking

There are three different models of deliberate thinking:

– Critical Thinking: This is the central model and involves deliberately evaluating information. It includes asking questions, weighing arguments, and seeking clarification to determine if one’s current position or belief is valid.

– Systems Thinking: This model focuses on understanding how things work together in larger systems rather than individual pieces. The goal of this method is to better understand complex situations by looking at them from multiple perspectives.

– Meta Model: This method takes a step back and looks at the process of thinking, rather than what you are thinking about. It’s most often used in therapy to help clients understand their own thoughts better.

Setting aside time every day

Setting aside time every day is the best way to improve your thinking skills. The brain needs breaks from work or busy days, so use your breakfast or lunchtime for giving your brain a break. 15 minutes is enough time for an individual, but there’s a compelling reason to set aside more if you cannot spare that much.

A few hours once a week

Critical thinking can be difficult to do, depending on your personal preference. Some people like to think in a continuous flow while others prefer small chunks of time throughout the week. There are also those who set aside 15 minutes every day for thinking but others don’t have time for it or find it hard to make that happen. Most people have no trouble with critical thinking if they invest a few hours once a week into their schedule.

A few days off every few months

Taking a day or two of vacation every few months is an effective way to clear your mind and get back into the swing of things after long periods of work.

Bill Gates, who is among the most notable people who followed such a methodology, took a week off twice every year and isolated himself from family, friends, and coworkers for up to 2 meals brought in every day while he was in the woods.

A few days off every few months enables you to slow down and focus on the right things. It also helps your brain recharge and returns back to work with renewed vigor and motivation.

What is the best way to assess someone’s ability to think critically?

Critical thinking involves asking questions to determine what’s true or false, why something happened the way it did, how to fix problems that occur in your life or work. Many people often confuse critical thinking skills with IQ because they are both based on logic.

The best way to assess someone’s ability to think critically is by looking for desirable traits like

  • Curiosity and interest in learning more,
  • Seeing connections between two pieces of information that point to a trend or observation,
  • Open-minded listening,
  • Eagerness to hear different perspectives, and
  • Self-reflective in examining their own biases or prejudices.

Critical thinking is an essential skill in the modern world. It also requires confidence and self-awareness to be able to think independently, present conclusions, or make decisions.

Some employees are more inclined than others, but it’s important for managers and HR professionals not only to recognize this trait of their staff but help them develop these skills as well.

Examples of how you might put “critical thinking” on a resume

Critical thinking is an important skill that many employers are looking for in their employees. One way to demonstrate your critical thinking skills on a resume is by describing the ways you’ve used them at previous jobs, such as creating reports or analyzing data.

The critical thinking skills that are required for a resume in this field include having an ability to think critically about the situation, being able to offer solutions based on your thoughts and reasoning, being able to identify assumptions made in an interview question, and understanding how different perspectives can affect our judgment.

This is why most of the questions you will be asked when interviewing for these positions are situational interview questions.

Example: Critical thinking helped me interpret phone survey’s results and develop new strategy for handling customer complaints

Conclusion

Critical thinking is not about extraordinary talent or IQ. It’s more about having the ability to see and think critically, which requires a person to be open-minded and willing to continue learning. Critical thinking does not come easy; it takes time and practice.

Image Credits:

  1. OpenClipart-Vectors on pixabay
  2. tumsasedgars on unsplash
  3. SonerCdem on pixabay
  4. designer491 on pixabay
  5. Devita ayu Silvianingtyas on pixabay
  6. Anthony Shkraba on pexels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tina

Helping professionals around the world explore and navigate their careers

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