What is critical thinking and why is it so important?

In an increasingly complex business world, there is more of a need for professionals to be prepared to deal with both every day and unexpected challenges. To achieve this, you need to focus on improving the way in which you approach problems, ideas and suggestions.

Unfortunately, current education systems appear to put more emphasis on what we learn rather than how we learn. As a result, the important skill of critical thinking has become neglected.

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking has been defined as:

“The ability to remove all emotion from an issue and observe the facts objectively to make a logical decision.”

Steve Siebold

Put simply, critical thinking is all about the way in which you think about certain things. It’s about questioning the facts to get a true, all-rounded understanding of a subject. It requires you to make use of your reasoning skills, rather than simply accepting facts at face value. When it comes to solving problems, critical thinkers will identify, analyse and resolve challenges systematically rather than emotionally, or by instinct alone.

How can I become a critical thinker?

The key abilities shared by critical thinkers include:

  • Observation To gain an unbiased view of the situation
  • Analysis To establish different perspectives in relation to a particular topic
  • Interpretation To objectively understand the facts of a matter
  • Reflection To ensure a true understanding 
  • Evaluation To determine how valid each argument around a topic is
  • Inference To draw logical, reasonable conclusions from the data
  • Explanation To give structured reasoning and relevant support for arguments
  • Problem solving To rationally approach challenges and find the best suitable solution
  • Decision making To weigh up options and choose the most reasonable reaction

Once you understand how to think critically, it’s down to you to practice your approach at every opportunity you get.

critical thinking decisions

Why is it important?

It gives you foresight

By thinking critically instead of making rash decisions, you’re more likely to avoid making bad decisions. How? Well, considering the impact of your decision on all parties forces you to think more seriously about the consequences of your decisions.

It breeds creativity

Critical thinking involves overcoming assumptions and thinking outside of the box. Instead of looking to previous solutions for problems, it promotes the practice of considering each problem individually and finding unique solutions for each one. For example, the invention of the mobile phone only came about once engineers let go of the assumption that all telephone communications had to take place over wires.

It’s more economical

Applying critical thinking practices in business can help you save more than just money – it can save you time and even your pride. This is because making poor decisions can often lead to backtracking. Too often, we don’t think things all the way through. As a result, it’s easy to encounter avoidable (and costly) problems.

It improves teamwork

When every member of a team actively applies more critical thinking in their day-to-day lives, it promotes a better understanding of differing viewpoints. This means that a team has more tolerance of each other’s opinions. As a result, disagreements are likely to reduce and teams are likely to become more efficient.

 

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