Critical thinking is defined as the ability to make decisions and solve problems based on logical reasoning and evidence while leaving out emotions to enable evaluation and improvement of one’s own thought process. While this seems like a simple thing to do, most people do not possess the ability to apply critical thinking to their decision-making process. The problem starts from school, where students are tested for remembering the lessons more than developing their ability to apply them in real life situations.
A recent report by Foundation for Young Australians points that the number of employers seeking new employees with innate critical thinking skills has grown by more than 158% over the past three years. This huge surge in demand also shows that there’s a shortage of availability. The good news is that critical thinking is an acquirable skill and anyone can develop it with enough practice. Here are some ways it leaves a positive impact on an individual.
It enables intellectual self-improvement
Critical thinking pushes you to look for answers beyond the obvious, helping you strengthen your cognitive skills in the process.
It allows you to look inwards to find rational explanations of your decision-making process. This critical reflection, in turn, brings back your focus on facts and evidence instead of emotions and allows you to sidestep your own ego to assess your performance to increase your overall performance.
Become a better team player
The simple fact accompanying every problem is that there are more answers than meet the eye at any given time. This realization is integral to enable critical thinking in an individual. Once you do that, you automatically become flexible in your approach towards a problem, and an active listener and collaborator in a group setting assigned to solve it. Also, as you focus more on the facts and less on emotions or ego, your interactions within the team improve and help establish you as a valuable member of the team.
Improved creative reasoning
Dr. Linda Elder and Dr. Richard Paul of the Foundation of Critical Thinking believe that experienced critical thinkers possess an innate ability to make connections across subjects compared to non-critical thinkers. This ability allows them to devise creative solutions to problems without having to rely on new ideas alone.
Even with new ideas, critical thinkers have an edge to evaluate them for relevance and selecting the best ones or modifying them as necessary.
Handle stress better
With their ability to rely on logical reasoning than emotions in their decision making process, critical thinkers can handle stressful situations much better than others. Using logic to get past life’s challenges is a great help, and critical thinkers always have an edge over non-critical thinkers in doing that.
Whether in a school group or at the workplace, critical thinking coupled with active listening, using logic and abstaining from emotional decision making can help you see connections that otherwise go unnoticed. This, in turn can add a lot of academic and professional value to your career. Critical thinking as a skill takes time to develop and no one expects a fresh graduate to possess the requisite skills on day one. But if you are willing to take the time to evaluate problems and possible solutions, it will help you to improve your decision making skills and contribute in your professional success.