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6 Critical Thinking Skills You Need to Develop

Critical thinking is an essential skill that every individual must master regardless of their background, industry, or experience level. A person’s inability to analyze and process information effectively could have major consequences for their career and life.

Among the first questions people ask is, what is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is simply rational thinking, using logic to explain ideas and problems, and establishing connections between them.

An individual can use it to reason or engage in independent thinking.

Critical thinking is a necessary skill in a world that is knee-deep in frauds, copycats, manipulation, and deception.

Critical thinkers constantly question assumptions and speculations, looking at them from every angle, observing and analyzing every step to reach a well-thought-out decision.

Rather than focusing on one thing, critical thinkers choose to see the big picture. They work systematically rather than relying on their instinct or intuition.

To put it simply, critical thinking is making informed and logical decisions to the best of your abilities.

Children who don’t have these skills might think Tooth Fairy gives them money based on stories they hear from their parents. Even if there are a few bucks under the pillow, a critical thinker will come to the conclusion that it’s unlikely that the Tooth Fairy put it there. 

Because of the ability to analyze situations from every angle, critical thinkers are more likely to succeed in life.

People can also take courses to develop this invaluable skill. Among the courses taught by Wiley Efficient Learning are some that focus on soft skill development, where they also focus on honing students’ critical thinking skills.

Tips for Enhancing Critical Thinking

So, how to improve or develop your thinking skills? A few suggestions here will help you hone your skills:

Identification

The first act is to identify the circumstances as well as factors that may affect your thinking. Identification does not just involve identifying a situation; it also involves identifying how groups, people, or other factors may influence it.

You can only begin exploring potential outcomes once you have a better understanding of the problem.

When faced with a dilemma that requires critical thinking, you must ask yourself questions like:

  • Who or what was involved?
  • What were they doing?
  • Why did it happen? What was the reason behind it?
  • What was the result of such a situation? How can the situation be changed in any way?

Research

The ability to perform independent research is essential in the critical thinking. When identifying an issue, we often need to compare arguments.

Arguments are by nature compelling and convincing. So, when they get backed up with unsubstantiated claims, or figures and premises that don’t hold up, we can reject those arguments right out of the gate.

Hence, the most suitable way to tackle this is to verify, find authentic sources of information, and assess the validity of arguments.

The process of becoming adept at recognizing suspicious claims will take time.

Which of the two claims made in a debate are well argued? If someone fails to back up their claims, whether it be a marketer, politician, or a scientist, etc., you can raise the red flag and keep your wits about you.

In addition, you should keep in mind that not all sources or claims are equally well founded. Learn to ascertain between what is popular and what actually holds up.

Identifying Biases

A critical thinker possesses a wide range of skills. The goal is to keep your reasoning objective. The act of critical thinking is similar to the job of a judge, who has to equally consider the two sides and analyze their declarations, sifting the facts from opinions.

Third-person objectivity is easier as compared to remaining objective when you’re party to an argument and have a lot at stake.

Your experiences and emotions may cloud your judgment. Everyone is biased to a certain degree. Accepting it is essential to being aware of it creeping into your judgments.

Ask yourself the following questions when you are analyzing information:

  • Who does it benefit and in what manner?
  • Do they have an agenda?
  • Is the information valid or authentic?
  • Is there evidence of misinformation or fraud?
  • Is there a misguidance of any of information by the use of profane language?

Inference

To infer is to draw conclusions based on the data you have gathered and deemed genuine. During discussions, reading, or research, we often find that information doesn’t just come prepackaged in a gift box with a bow tied on top.

Often, you have to draw valuable insights on your own by reading between the lines.

Another word for inference is an educated guess. The assumptions you make are backed up by decisive data.

This ability can be improved by gathering as much data as possible instead of falling back on human instinct and jumping to conclusions upon conclusions without first finding solid footing.

Curiosity

Curiosity is a valuable skill that motivates us to learn new things. As we grow older, the need to ask questions diminishes; however, for critical thinking, you need to make sure that you are asking as many questions as possible.

Ask open-ended and probing questions, nudging yourself in the right direction to get the information you need.

Learn to be subtle about how you frame your questions.

Determining Relevance

Finding what is critical in any given piece of information is a challenging part of the process.

To polish the skill of identify what is critical, you need to establish goals. Have a crystal clear chain of thought in your mind, then you’ll know what to look for, whether it be a pattern or a trend.

Sometimes having a goal in mind is not sufficient to determine the relevance of the data. One way is to make a list of the relevant details and then do further analysis to reach a credible conclusion.

Before We Part!

Developing your critical thinking skills will be beneficial in almost every aspect of your life, whether you want a successful college career or a successful professional career. Practice these tips, and you’ll start improving your critical thinking.