Critical thinking or analytical thinking is the kind of thinking where you question, analyze, interpret, evaluate and judge what you read, hear, say or write.
Critical thinking helps us to understand any phenomenon based on facts. It helps to make the right decision.
That is, using critical thinking at work means identifying a problem by collecting and processing facts, information and other data and coming up with effective solutions.
Anyone can start practicing critical thinking. For starters, first ask yourself if you have any analytical skills. Then think of any skills not yet acquired.
This article explains what critical thinking is, why it is important, and how to improve critical thinking skills.
What Does Critical Thinking Mean?
Critical or analytical thinking is the ability to analyze the facts and data involved in order to understand a topic or problem in detail.
There are several steps in the analytical thinking process. such as collecting data, posing urgent questions and exploring potential solutions.
Let’s say you work in the Human Resources department. You want to resolve a conflict between two employees. At this time you have to use analytical thinking to understand the nature of the conflict between them and what action needs to be taken to resolve this situation. If we intervene from experience without applying analytical thinking, instead of solving the conflict, new problems may arise.
5 Essential Skills For Analytical Thinking
Here is a brief discussion of the skills you need to have for critical thinking. Master these to demonstrate your analytical thinking skills. If necessary, you can highlight these skills in a job interview or CV.
- 1. Observation
The first aspect of critical thinking is the skill of observation. Those with good powers of observation can quickly anticipate and identify problems.
By using their powers of observation, they can understand what is causing the problem. A proper combination of observation and experience can often predict problems in advance.
To increase observational power, you need to slow down the process of information processing, i.e. sensing and perceiving the surroundings. Teach yourself how to notice everything around you. You can practice mindfulness techniques to become proficient at this. You can also do journaling or write a diary.
Another way is to actively listen to what’s going on around you, or what’s being heard, when you’re not at work. If you notice certain trends in behavior, transactions, or information usage, you will know that your observational skills are developing.
- 2. Analysis
After understanding what the problem is, you need problem analysis skills. To properly evaluate and analyze an event, you need to understand which factors or facts are most important. This work requires unbiased research, validating information through relevant questions, and impersonally evaluating results.
You can gain new experiences to enhance your analytical skills. Suppose you read a book on a subject that is completely new to you. Or take a maths course online that will help you think in new ways and give you new ideas.
These tasks will help you acquire the ability to analyze new information in different ways and arrive at logical conclusions through proper analysis.
- 3. Decision Making
Decision-making skills refer to the ability to use collected information to reach a final decision. This, however, may require technical expertise and experience in the subject area.
When you make a decision, you are actually formulating an answer using a limited amount of information. For example, a car mechanic often has to guess based on a small amount of information as to what might cause a car’s engine to stop.
- 4. Communication
Communication skills are essential to understand and talk about a topic well. This skill helps in discussing possible solutions with others at work.
Practice talking about seemingly difficult topics to improve communication skills. Suppose you disagree with your colleague about something. During this time you need to maintain some effective communication habits. For example, listening carefully to others and respecting others’ opinions. At the same time, you need to understand the point of view of others and have the ability to explain your thoughts logically and coolly to others. By doing this you will be able to reach the right solution on various issues with colleagues.
- 5. Problem Solving
Once you’ve identified and analyzed a problem and come up with a solution, all you have to do is implement that solution.
You need to use analytical thinking to solve the problem, so that you can come up with the best solution and at the same time understand why the solution is working or not.
You need to increase your knowledge in your field, you need to increase your knowledge about the industry. By doing this, you will be able to move towards the right goals and also improve your problem solving skills.
If you have a good understanding of your work, it will be much easier to solve problems. You can also gain some insight from seeing how others are solving their problems. Memorize their techniques and hear from them about how they are solving.