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Top five critical thinking skills

Critical thinking is important, it is a skill far too often ignored and companies and people will take advantage of you if you ignore the process.

How many times have you spoken to someone who seems to override the facts as you know them with their emotional positions? Even your own judgement can become clouded by their insistence that evidence can be found on the internet. Sometimes their ability to convince you of an outcome without all the required knowledge is overwhelming. What was once obvious or at the least taken as obvious is now undermined by doubt and fake news. The problem is, where you draw the line with this information at hand?

We don’t have to know everything, it okay to say, “I don’t know”. Being able to stop yourself going into a subject beyond your knowledge looking for an opinion seems to be a dying art.

The Cambridge Dictionary definition of critical thinking is “the process of thinking carefully about a subject or idea without allowing feelings or opinions affect you”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue to form a judgment”.

Ironically, I have researched this blog online as we do these days. To remain real and true to the facts I have engaged these five steps to critical thinking myself. To perform critical thinking effectively here are five steps that can be employed.

These steps should be consciously applied as often as possible:

1. Analytical thinking: Examine and identify and define issues without your own input, extract key information, develop workable solutions or conclusions, and test and verify the cause and remedy if applicable.

2. Communication: Often, you will need to share your conclusions with people around you, maybe your employers, other work colleagues, family and friends then apply the sensible test to their responses and your own thinking.

3. Creativity: Tapping into new ideas and applying different points of view will help you analyse an issue, ask more questions.

4. Open-Mindedness: To effectively analyse an issue, it’s important to do so without pre-conceived ideas and emotions. Sometimes called lateral thinking.

5. Problem Solving: Projecting the issue through analysis to a satisfactory conclusion applying all the proven evidence you can and apply your own thinking without making anything up If you don’t know and can’t find out, then accept you just don’t know.

Critical thinking is the analysis of an issue using the sum of the facts, it takes input from you to make a judgment to ensure the right conclusions can be reached. Do not make stuff up to get to a conclusion.

For example, listen purposely and intently to conversations with people, analyse what they are saying and separate opinion from facts. You will be surprised how much is said without critical analysis.

Emotions are predominant in our day-to-day conversations, and too often conclusions are made without all the facts. I urge you to use critical thinking when reading my book as I do venture into unproven areas in the hope to expand your thinking and make my points. Make up your own mind and do not take anything as gospel until you know you have enough information and evidence.

Apply the who, what, where, when, why and how questions to any problem or issue and ensure you keep it real.

Observe, learn, ask and apply your thinking to analyzing everything you can so you critically investigate new information and even old assumptions you may have.

Clarity is vital for problem solving and critical thinking. If you are about to make a decision regarding your life or work then make sure you have all the information, scope is important and knowing the context of the issue you have relevance of the information at hand is vital.

Logic is often missing when life decisions are made. For example when buy a new house haw many times do we hear “I love this house I’m sure we can make it a home?”. When a better approach is to make a pros and cons list, for and against applying a rigorous as possible test to each of the items listed.

As I said above communication is important in this process even when the decision is yours alone.

I remember applying two different tests to two of my real estate purchases. My commercial property went trough a much more rigorous test than my home as I was emotionally involved in the home even before I had seen it. Life is not always about how we feel about things and repercussions will arrive whether we want them to or not.

Keep an open mind and logical approach and do not apply tests that are based on feelings, looks and emotions to anything even people. Critical thinking is a much better foundation to have beneath you life decisions than feelings and ego.


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