Critical thinking has a wealth of benefits. You can use critical thinking to help you better understand yourself or others. Plus, you can harness critical thinking and apply it to situations such as finding a solution to a problem. This problem could be personal or it could be work-related, with the latter being a main component to many people’s jobs such as engineers whose work typically revolves around ‘fixing’ issues and developing solutions.
Overall, critical thinking is a skill that you may naturally be gifted with, or it is a skill you may need to study and learn. Either way, critical thinking helps you think ‘outside the box’ as you look for creative solutions for a problem.
How do you improve your critical thinking, though? Whether you are a student, working professional or someone who simply wishes to widen their skillset in their free time, here are a few ways you can improve your critical thinking.
Understand the Steps of Critical Thinking
While it is important to remember that everyone works differently and has their own learning style, there is typically a template when it comes to applying critical thinking to a situation. It is advised that you use this template and adapt it depending on your own learning techniques so that it completely suits you and your needs. The usual steps of critical thinking are:
- Find the problem and identify it. You may wish to turn the problem into a question so that you can easily apply an answer.
- Gather information surrounding the problem. This information should be from different perspectives so that there is no bias.
- Start to analyse the data you have collected. Through evaluation, you can determine how reliable the data is.
- Ask the question, “How relatable is this data?” Some of the information you originally gathered may no longer be relevant once you have analysed it. Therefore, you should remove it.
- Use your decision-making skills. By determining a variety of possible outcomes, it is time to decide which conclusion yields the best results. Use the evidence that you have compiled through your analysis to support your decision.
- Present your final thoughts to the client.
These are the common steps of critical thinking. But how can you get to using them? Read on for tips on how to become a critical thinking genius.
Reflect and be More Self-Aware
You need to be self-aware about how you work, your values, your thought processes, and your beliefs. By understanding your beliefs, morals and values, you can start to understand why you act in a certain way and why you may approach certain problems. For instance, if you view yourself as quite ethical, then you are always going to approach a problem with an ethical mindset.
Consider Your Mental Process
How do you process information? Can you simply listen and remember information? Do you need to read the information and write it down a few times before you start thinking of a solution? It may be that you are a visual learner and will need to create learning aids when analysing the data.
A great critical thinker knows how they work and what works best for them so that they can utilise this when finding the best possible solutions. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to processing data.
Harness the Power of Foresight
If you are an engineer, then your job is finding a solution that works for the majority. You need to be able to harness the power of foresight so that you can determine the possible outcomes and decide which would be most beneficial to your client(s). Being able to predict outcomes is incredibly useful and it helps you find the best solutions possible. It can also help you whittle down your list of possible solutions until you find the one solution that is going to yield the best results.
Learn How to Evaluate and Problem Solve
Developing analytical skills isn’t easy, but learning how to evaluate data and problem solve so that you can come to the best conclusion is essential if you wish to work as an engineer for a business leader within a company. When a tricky situation arises, you will need to contemplate and evaluate all components to the problem so that you can make an unbiased and professional decision with the outcome that has the company’s best interests at heart.
Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor who can impart their wisdom and knowledge onto you is a great way to learn or improve your critical thinking skills. You can learn one-on-one as they teach you the best critical thinking techniques that have aided them during their professional career. They may also be able to point you in the right direction to resources and reading materials, too. When finding a mentor, it may be worth reaching out to a few different people who inspire you. Remember that they may not reply to you, and finding a mentor may be quite tricky.
Enrol in a Course
Returning to education can be a great way to improve your analytical and critical thinking skills. You may wish to enrol into further education and complete a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree. This type of degree is tailored to business professionals who wish to improve their business leadership skills (like critical thinking) so that they can accelerate their career and become a better business professional. Aston University offers an online DBA for business professionals who wish to improve their existing skillset while also balancing work responsibilities.
Critical thinking can be applied in various scenarios, both in a work environment and to personal situations. Not only does it allow you to think and deliberate about situations more methodically and without a biased opinion, but it also helps young business professionals accelerate their career if they wish to climb the business ladder. There are numerous ways to improve your critical thinking, all you have to do is find the right way for you!