Updated: Aug 26, 2021
Critical Thinking is a life tool, it is not a one off kind of thing that lasts for maybe a certain phase or period. It’s a life study, and the more we know of this skill, the better our lives will be!
Now the eventual question is, how can we hone our Critical Thinking Skills for it to become an unconscious daily habit, a habit that will help us analyze everything we do, so that we make the most of our time and abilities.
What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of a subject/situation or matter in order to form a judgement thereby enabling the thinker to think clearly and rationally about what to do next or what to believe. Critical Thinking is not a team activity, but includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking.
Critical Thinking does not mean criticizing or being critical of self or anyone. It should not be mistaken with being a critic. Critical Thinking is more Internal. A critical thinker is able to gather significance from what he knows, and uses this information to solve problems, and seek relevant sources of information pertaining to his situation.
Benefits of Critical Thinking
Critical thinking should not be confused with being argumentative or being critical of self or other people. Critical Thinking is a different subject which can help us acquire knowledge, improve our beliefs, and strengthen arguments. We can use critical thinking to enhance work processes and improve society as a whole.
1. Increased Awareness - Critical Thinking, helps to approach a problem with various perspectives and to critically analyze these perspectives. A best approach to a problem can then be deployed rather than relying on the same ‘run-off-the-mill’ solutions which wouldn’t yield great results or yields the same results. One can learn how to identify, often more valuable alternatives, inevitably increasing your success quotient.
2. Change Perspective – You gain a better understanding of any situation and learn how different factors affect decision-making. This understanding will allow you to appreciate differing viewpoints to the same situation and decide the best option. A great skill to inculcate when you are in a Leadership position.
3. Doing what is Apt – Critical Thinking helps you filter information into what is relevant and what is not. It teaches you to prioritize time and resources by analyzing what is essential to the process. Doing this regularly will soon make you a pro at process and problem management.
4. Effective Communicator – Your ability to analyze and take the right decision will gain you respect from your team. You know exactly what the problem is and the outcome will be; this knowledge will make it easier to communicate with the team. Relevant points supported by facts and figures will put your ideas across more credibly, thus enabling for a better solution to any situations.
5. Critical Thinking becomes a Habit – Your reasoning and critical thinking attitude is deployed in every area, thus making decision making a lot easier. Decisions will not be ‘spur of the moment’ decisions, they will be sounder decisions. No intuition or guesswork, but analytical and realistic.
The HOW of Critical Thinking
Summary of Key Heuristics of Types of Thinking – (7th International CDIO Conference 2011 - June 20-23, Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen)
- Generate many possibilities
- Generate different types of possibilities
- Generate novel possibilities
Compare & Contrast
- Identify what is similar between things - objects/options/ideas, etc
- Identify what is different between things
- Identify and consider what is important about both the similarities and differences
- Identify a range of situations when the different features are applicable
- Identify relationship of the parts to a whole in system /structure/model
- Identify functions of each part
- Identify consequences to the whole, if a part was missing
- Identify what collections of parts form important sub-systems of the whole
- Identify if and how certain parts have a synergetic effect
Inference & Interpretation
- Identify intentions and assumptions in data
- Separate fact from opinion in data
- Identify key points, connections, and contradictions in data
- Make meaning of the data/information available
- Establish a best picture to make predictions
- Decide on what is to be evaluated
- Identify appropriate criteria from which evaluation can be made
- Prioritize the importance of the criteria
- Apply the criteria and make decision
- Be aware that we can think in an organized manner
- Actively think about the ways in which we are thinking
- Monitoring and evaluating how effective we are thinking
- Seeking to make more effective use of the different ways of thinking and any
supporting learning/ thinking strategies /tools
Developing Critical Thinking Skills and its Importance in today’s Dynamic Scenario.
1. An Asset Skill - The ability to think clearly and rationally is important whatever we choose to do, especially in the areas of education, research, finance, management or the legal profession. Critical Thinking is not restricted to any particular area or function, since having this skill is important to every individual as they can then think appropriately and solve problems systematically.
2. The right Tool for today’s VUCA Economy – Today’s economy is all about information, innovation and technology. Changes come and go at the click of a finger. Having the capacity to adapt to these fast paced changes quickly and effectively can only come with analysing, integrating and solving problems and dealing with situations in a quick efficient manner.
3. Promotes Creativity – Since Critical Thinking clearly and systematically improves the way we express our ideas, it also spurs our thinking to come up with creative solutions to a problem and selecting the best outcome by modifying these solutions if necessary.
4. Self-reflection, Self-development – Above all, everyone wants to live a meaningful life. Our lives are structured on the values we follow and the decisions we take. To grow forward, we need to keep reflecting on our values and decisions else we become stagnant. Critical Thinking provides the tools for this process of self-evaluation.
Critical Thinking is an important life skill for people today. This corrective thinking discipline is very essential if a company wants to achieve to high standards of excellence. The best part is, Critical Thinking Skills can be learnt through the use of tools and trainings.