Along with a bunch of technical skills, hiring professionals actively look for candidates who can do critical thinking and make better decisions. It is a crucial skill at the workplace since it makes employees better at analysis, deriving conclusions and making decisions.
You don’t have to be a natural-born critical thinker because the skill can be learned easily.
Such problem-solvers are highly sought after and you can become one by improving your critical thinking capabilities in the steps mentioned below. But first, look closely at why critical thinking is the most desired skill among hiring managers.
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What is critical thinking?
Critical thinking is the ability to think deeply and analyse a situation to arrive at a logical conclusion, so as to make informed decisions. One who exercises critical thinking at the workplace employs his rationality, keeping his cognitive biases aside to make wise decisions. Critical thinking paired with emotional intelligence is an optimal combination of soft skills that will make you successful at the workplace.
Apart from professional context, critical thinking is important in personal life situations too. It is a very beneficial higher-order thinking skill that makes you an active knowledge seeker.
Benefit and importance of critical thinking at the workplace
The biggest benefit of critical thinking is the power of active knowledge consumption. Moreover, they enhance communications, build creativity and lead to ideation. When employees analyse a situation quickly, they are able to measure all the pros and cons and come to a logical conclusion. In fact, critical thinking in professional life gives one the ability to develop different perspectives on a situation and look at a situation from multiple perspectives.
In a workplace with newer challenges, an employee with critical thinking abilities is able to communicate better with his/her peers, build long-lasting relationships and operate smoothly.
When you use critical thinking while communicating, the conversations become more meaningful as you take the other person’s perspective into account.
Speaking from a leadership point of view, critical thinking becomes indispensable.
Since it is such a highly valued skill at all levels of management, here are eight simple ways in which you can improve critical thinking to become a better professional.
8 steps to improve your critical thinking skills
Step 1 - Foster open-mindedness
When you wish to be an unbiased decision-maker, it is crucial to have an open mind. As a critical thinker, you must be open to receiving information from all channels. With an open mind comes the ability to analyse situations and perspectives better. In this way you will become a more welcoming individual and your peers will feel safe discussing issues with you.
Step 2 - Remain curious
A curious employee asks more relevant questions and gains a deeper understanding of the processes around him/her. When a tricky situation arises, the habit of asking questions is fundamental to gain more insight and understand things with much more clarity. So, broaden your horizon by asking intelligent questions.
Step 3 - Evaluate and then act
Know that all your actions have a consequence. So, critically examine all the options and evaluate all the options before making any decision. This is where critical thinking as a skill becomes pivotal in leadership. Since all leadership decisions directly impact those in the organisation, careful analysis and analytical thinking becomes the need of the hour.
You can culminate this habit at a personal level by firstly knowing what you want. This will help you set concrete objectives. Further, it will lead the way to making strategies and using the information at hand in a way that will benefit you professionally and others in the process too.
Step 4 - Go to the root source of the information
It's true when they say that little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Ignorance is never bliss in a workplace and you surely need to gain as much information as possible to deliver hassle-free and less complicated solutions. Sound knowledge and rationale form the backbone of problem-solving.
Step 5 - Communicate effectively
Communication is key to avoiding misunderstandings. When you are presented with a particular situation, communicate with others to get to the root source to gain more intel into it. Knowing their point of view might help you open up to different thinking processes. Critical thinkers listen to others, communicate and then make a logical decisions.
Step 6 - Do exhaustive research
Doing research is quintessential to making decisions. When you have enough knowledge on a subject matter or a situation you can drive all possible scenarios and build hypotheses. Leave your beliefs at bay and focus on new research and learning. Look for credible sources of information or discuss it with those who have experience in the domain.
Step 7 - Put your biases and prejudices aside
If you wish to be fair in your approach, it is important to keep your biases aside. As a critical thinker, you should develop the habit of taking others’ feelings into consideration. It is advised not to keep a one-track mind and do not get influenced by those in your closed circle. Allow yourself to think from a neutral perspective and then act.
Step 8 - Weight the consequences of your actions
When you make decisions at a workplace you determine the consequences they may have on yourself and others. Take up a plan of action that benefits you and doesn't impact others negatively either. Whip up a list of pros and cons to help you arrive at a decision quickly while keeping your objectives clear in your mind every time.
The demand for critical thinking has drastically increased manifolds, making it one of the top skills to compete with AI. The task of using logic to arrive at a decision is executable by a machine. But taking an informed decision by maintaining an emotional quotient and needs of others in mind is purely dependent on human prowess.