How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills
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Critical thinkers are in high need in the workplace because businesses always need better, more knowledgeable solutions. Critical thinking is the process of carefully analysing a subject or idea to get the best answer to a question or problem. By using your own experience, reasoning, observation and communication with others, you can make informed decisions that produce positive solutions. To be more specific, critical thinking at work helps you to improve decision-making, evaluate an argument’s validity and its potential impact, form your own opinions on a topic, develop your personal ethics and confidence, engage on a deeper, more intellectual level with your co-workers and supervisors to form stronger working relationships, and evaluate your own work to determine ways to improve quality and efficiency. So, how can you train your ability to think critically?
Here are five tips:
Critical thinking involves patience, along with a degree of emotional intelligence which is the ability to understand your emotions and keep them in balance.
The goal is to not let momentary emotions make you choose permanent decisions as they may be decisions you later regret.
PAY ATTENTION TO NEGATIVE FEEDBACK
Negative feedback is like a freshly dug diamond. It may be unattractive to the naked eye, but its value becomes clear after cutting and polishing. Similarly, when someone criticizes your work, it doesn’t feel good. You’ll be tempted to defend yourself or to close your mind.
Instead, give it some time to think it over such as a day or two. Allow your emotions to settle down, and then ask yourself:
· What can I learn from this criticism?
· Is there any truth I can extract from it?
· If not, what can I learn from the other person’s perspective?
By looking at it this way, you can alter criticism from a perceived attack to a helpful gift.
SCHEDULE TIME TO THINK
Critical thinking is hard work. So, when it comes time to analyse facts, block out time in your calendar to engage in deep thought.
Use some of the following questions to help you analyse:
· What are the assumptions?
· What are the facts?
· What are the pros? What are the cons?
· What are the underlying problems?
· What is the main problem?
· What are the potential solutions for that problem?
· What is the best solution?
There are times when it’s appropriate to collaborate, but it’s often best to spend time alone, in quiet surroundings, without distraction. There you can focus on connecting in unbroken, focused thought.
One downside that prevents critical thinking is focusing only on the short-term. Instead, step back and think of the future. What will be the consequences of your decision? What will the effect be in a month? A year? Five years?
This type of “fast forward” thinking can help you see the big picture and make decisions appropriately.
LET THINGS SIMMER
When analysing a complicated situation or trying to make a difficult decision, you’ll often benefit by walking away and letting all the facts settle in your mind.
Of course, you don’t want to avoid the situation. Set a time limit to think things through. The amount of time will vary depending on the gravity of the situation; you may need a week, or even just a day or two. You’d be surprised how much clarity you can achieve after a good night’s sleep.
Whether you run a small company or a large one, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a solopreneur–or simply embrace the entrepreneurial spirit–you’ll benefit from learning to think critically. Learn to do this effectively, and you’ll engage the type of deep thinking that can take you and your work to the next level.
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