Studies show that critical thinking leads to increased creativity, enhanced work performance, and a lowering of negative life experiences.
And these are just some of the benefits of critical thinking.
Aristotle said it well: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
What Exactly Is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking covers a wide variety of thought processes.
To help you understand what critical thinking is, take a look at the list below:
- Problem solving.
These traits are common forms of critical thinking.
As an example, imagine that you were seeking a new job or career, and had just started to look at advertised vacancies. In order to choose the most suitable vacancies, you would spend time looking at where the jobs were based, what skills and experience were required, and how much the roles were paying.
All the above actions would be classed as critical thinking. You used analysis, evaluation and (most likely) questioning.
As a further example of critical thinking, consider the way that attorneys work. Firstly, they examine the evidence. Then, they use critical thinking in order to create a plan to win their case (or to settle out of court).
What Are the Recognisable Signs of Critical Thinkers?
Now that you understand what critical thinking is about, I’m sure you’re curious to know how to recognise the signs of critical thinkers.
Let’s take a look…
One major giveaway of critical thinkers is the fact that they tend to be highly successful. This success can be academic, personal or professional. But you can be sure, that whenever you see people achieving big results – they’ll definitely be critical thinkers.
Here are some further signs of critical thinkers:
- They are creative, innovative individuals.
- They are fascinated by how things work.
- They get their news and views from a wide variety of sources.
- They are always asking questions.
- They have levelheaded conversations with people they disagree with.
If you’re failing to reach your goals in life – then you should definitely begin boosting your critical-thinking skills.
Discover 7 Ways to Help You Master Critical Thinking
To become adept at critical thinking, you must learn to question things. This includes questioning statements from authority figures, general assumptions, and even your own beliefs. Try asking yourself these questions: “Do I believe everything I was taught at school?” “Are my beliefs really my own? “Does my government lie to me?”
Stop accepting everything you are told, and begin thinking for yourself. For example, a guitar teacher may have taught you how to play guitar in a certain way, but can you now improve on that way? By thinking for yourself, you’ll unleash your creativity and boost your self-confidence.
Evidence can be a great way to find answers to issues you may be experiencing. However, don’t just take evidence at face value. Instead, evaluate all evidence by asking: “Who gathered it, how was this done, and why?” These probing questions will enable you to quickly identify evidence that is sound – and evidence that you should steer clear of.
4. Become aware of your personal biases.
If you’re honest with yourself, most times you probably think you’re right. While this may be the case, when making decisions, you must put aside any personal biases or beliefs. Critical thinking needs to look at different perspectives and points of view before reaching a conclusion. I know it’s hard to think outside of your personal biases, but for the sake of your success in life – you must try to do so.
Like a great detective, you must become skilled at uncovering motive. For example, think of a time that a company offered you a free product to try. All you needed to do was give some basic personal details to them. Unfortunately, as well as receiving the free product, you rapidly became bombarded with promotional emails, letters and phone calls. In hindsight, you’ll have become aware of the company’s motive. They didn’t care about sending you a freebie – they just wanted to capture and sell on your personal information.
Big picture thinking is all the rage nowadays, but it’s not always the best way to reach decisions. If you need to deal with a major problem such as losing your job, then you can become quickly overwhelmed by events. This stress and anxiety could lead to inaction on your part. Just what you don’t need at this vital time. Instead, break down the issue into smaller components. These might include: getting the best payout from your employer, ensuring that all your bills are covered, seeking new work opportunities. Big problems seem much less scary when you break them down into small pieces.
7. Keep it simple.
Are you familiar with a line of reasoning known as Occam’s razor?2 In case you’re not, I’ll summarise it for you now. Occam’s razor can be described as the simplest answer is most often correct. Frequently, we look for complex answers – when the truth may be staring us right in the face. The following scenario will give you a good example of Occam’s razor in action…. A loud bang is heard inside an office that is close to a busy highway. Some staff think it may be a bomb, others suggest that it’s just a truck backfiring. I’ll let you decide which one of these is the most likely cause of the noise.
Use critical thinking every time that you need to make an important decision. People will notice the difference in your actions. And before long, you’ll be achieving more success than you ever thought was possible.