The manner in which you think often determines the quality of which you deliver at the work place. Given the competition that exists between the various companies, companies are always waiting with open arms to hire individuals who have their head on their shoulders and who know what to do when. Being able to think critically is a much sought after thing which not a lot of people are born with. Based on the quality of education which you receive, the subjects you choose as well as the kind of mind you have, your mind will be trained to think accordingly. Here are some ways on how to start thinking critically and ways to improve critical thinking skills.
What is Critical Thinking?
1. Seeing things as they are:
Critical thinking implies that you simply see things as they are without having any kind of colored vision or imaginary thought. It involves simply using your eyes to take in what is before you. Even if things are not as they appear to be, a practical thinker will be able to mark the irony. Therefore, every company prefers to hire those people who think in such a manner as they will be able to note things as they are, without letting their imaginations get the better of them or without going overboard with the inferences they make.
2. It is a different approach to problem solving:
When you think in a critical manner you have a rather unconventional approach to problem solving. Rather than trusting hunches or guess, a critical thinker will only rely on facts and figures which he can see and hence believe. He will never make the mistake of believing something which is not concrete. Finding people like this who have this unique method of solving problems by thinking in this manner is indeed a tough task. Such individuals prove to be invaluable at any company which they choose to join. Such kind of thinking is as opposed to emotional thinking where a person takes into account, abstract feelings and emotions.
3. Distinctly different from creative thinking:
Critical thinking is diametrically opposite to concrete thinking. This is owing to the fact that critical thinking has its roots in reality and hard facts where as creative thinking is purely fictional and has little to do with the world in which we live in. Both the critical thinkers as well as the creative thinkers are valued by the company for different reasons. A person who is a critical thinker need not have the ability to think out of the box or come up with unconventional ideas. Rather he will be responsible for doing something related to analyzing or synthesizing some data.
4. Writing in-depth descriptions:
A person who is a critical thinker is most certainly bound to have a closed eye for detail. He makes it a point to work on data which he has gathered and tries his best to enhance it, as best he can. Such an individual must be able to write detailed descriptions of what he has observed. He cannot stop at simply noticing something at a superficial level. It is imperative that he digs much deeper and tries to find a logical connection between the trends he is noticing and the data which he is making a note of.
5. Making evaluations after your observations:
Critical thinking does not merely stop with the person making the observation and noticing a few things. The individual must make evaluations based on what he has been able to notice. As mentioned above, digging deeper is very important indeed because that is the main reason why people who have this bend of mind are employed in a company. A person who thinks in such a way is rather open minded and will never be closed or non receptive to any ideas which are passed by them.
6. It is very scientific in its approach:
In order to think in this scientific manner it is important that the individual is methodical and rational. People who are constantly confused and cannot make proper decisions will never be able to be a proper critical thinker. He will never be caught speaking a lot or writing down his descriptions in huge paragraphs, rather on the contrary such an individual will be sure to sieve through the information, retain what is useful, get rid of that which is unnecessary and present it neatly in a comprehensive form. Critical thinkers like to present information in a tabular or point form.
7. Includes the pros and cons of something:
Critical thinking means that a person who has such a thinking will just come to a conclusion of how good or bad something is based on the pros and the cons which is able to think of. He will carefully note down the pros and the cons based on the information which has been gathered after a significant amount of observation and experimentation.
Critical Thinking Skills You Need to Master:
1. Having logical – reasoning skills is a must:
In order to be a critical thinker it is vital that the person has logical- reasoning skills which will help in a great deal along the way. If you wish to be someone who thinks in such a clear sighted manner then it is important that you try and brush up on your logical- reasoning skills else you will never be able to function in a proper as well as efficient manner. Mastering this skill might prove to be too tough for people and this is the main impediment standing in your way if you wish to become an independent, critical thinker.
2. Having practical – life skills are necessary:
The skill of practicality is not something which a lot of us can boast of. To be such a critical thinker it is imperative that you have your feet firmly planted to the ground and that you are wedded to reality. If you have your head in the clouds then you will not be able to become a critical thinker as such individuals never let something false or abstract get the better of them. If you are able to be practical then you will automatically become more adept at handling issues and problems which come your way while at work or even at the domestic front.
3. Your observation skills have to be top notch:
You will only be able to think in a critical manner if you are able to be sensitive to the world around you and notice everything that takes place. The moment you are not attentive, chances are that something might miss your eyes. In addition to keeping your eyes open at all times and noticing even small changes that are occurring, it is equally important to keep your ears open and be attentive when someone is giving you a piece of information or telling you to keep an eye out for some problem which might present itself to you in the time to come.
4. Writing skills need to be very well developed:
As mentioned above, a great part of critical thinking involves making a note of things and writing down even the most complicated descriptions in a simplistic and comprehensive form. To be able to do this, it is imperative that you have writing skills. This does not imply that your hand writing has to be good, it simply means that being quick enough to note something down. If by chance you forget to note something down and that simply slips your mind too, then missing out on that bit of information might put you in a fair bit of trouble.
5. You must have proper communication skills:
Communication skills are something which not many of us have from the time of our birth. Yet, it is something which can be very easily acquired with effort and a considerable bit of time. When you are a critical thinker you must also have very well developed communication skills as well. Critical thinkers are independent thinkers, but when working in a company they mostly function in groups. At such a time, if you are unable to communicate in a proper and effective manner then things will become difficult not only for you but your entire team as well.
6. Technological skills are very helpful:
A critical thinker should ideally be able to make use of technology in order to assist him when working on some project. When you work on a computer then you automatically input the data and save it in a much more methodical and systematic manner. In addition to this, when you make use of technology then chances are that you will not make any errors in your work and if something is not adding up, you will be immediately notified. We live in a technological era, so having this skill will help you in the other spheres of your life as well.
Ways to Improve Critical Thinking Skills:
1. Work on some computer programs:
One of the best things you can do if you wish to improve your critical thinking skills is that you ought to make it a point to solve some computer programs in your spare time. Doing this will not only improve your typing speed but in addition to this it will help you to think in a methodical manner. Even if you have missed out one step while writing a program, your program will not work. So practicing in this manner will ensure that you learn to do things one step at a time without missing out any intermediary levels.
2. Do as many puzzles as you can:
Working on puzzles is something which we all enjoy. If you think that you need a rest from being in front of the computer or laptop, then you could always work some puzzles in order to help your mind work quickly. Puzzles are printed daily in the newspaper so in your free time you can just grab a pen and work on a puzzle. It does not matter if it is a jumbled words puzzle, a cross word or even a Sudoku! When you do this, without even realizing it you will be improving your critical skills along the way.
3. Work out math sums in your free time:
If you are in the mood to indulge in something a little more serious than puzzles then you could always solve some math sums in order to brush up on your logical reasoning skills. When you work on your logical reasoning skills and come up with solutions then you are automatically working on your critical thinking.
4. Debating is very helpful:
A critical thinker is someone who enjoys making inferences based on information which has been received. A very positive exercise which can really help you be a crucial thinker is debating. You and your friends should unanimously decide on a topic and then debate on it by putting forth your points for or against the motion. This will not only increase your knowledge but certainly improve your critical thinking skills.
5. Read some detective books!
Finally, you can improve your own crucial thinking skills by watching some good detective movies or reading some books. By doing this you will be able to make a note of how these skilled professionals come to conclusions based on evidences which they gather.
In order to be able to think clearly you must ensure that you have a clear mind and are willing to always depend on your rational faculties, irrespective of what others are trying to tell you. Critical thinking is rather clinical and it is the method which is adopted by people who are pragmatic and enter into top corporate jobs. Thinking in this manner certainly does not come easy; it takes a number of years of experience and a considerable bit of formal training to have such clarity and thought as well as expression. So make use of the tips mentioned above to start thinking in this manner.