“The purpose of critical thinking is rethinking that is, reviewing, evaluating, and revising thought.” – Jon Stratton.
“The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.” – Pierre Abelard.
Critical thinking is an important skill that every person wanting to succeed as a professional need. Employers value critical thinking skills as well. In this article, we are going to talk about six critical thinking skills that you need to master now.
First, let us find out what critical thinking skills are. Critical thinking skills are abilities which help us think rationally and in an organized way to make sense of connections between ideas and facts. Individuals who possess critical thinking skills have great wisdom, they are autonomous and independent. They can make valuable contributions to the company they are working for.
Critical thinkers are always able to do the following. They can raise questions and problems in a clear and precise way. They are skilled at gathering and assessing relevant information after which they all come to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions. Such people are also able to think open-mindedly. Finally, they can communicate with others when it comes to solving problems.
You may wonder why critical thinkers are so valued by their employers. Well, let us have a look at some examples of why critical thinkers are always a great asset to any company or business.
1. Critical thinkers are always open to new ideas.
Let us imagine that you are taking part in a corporate meeting, and someone is suggesting a new way of approaching clients instead of the old method of cold calling. Those people who are not critical thinkers would be likely to reject the new idea, arguing that cold calling is the best approach. But critical thinkers will always consider new ideas without automatically dismissing them.
Critical thinkers will also seek out more information on the new idea and ask critical questions. Is the idea that has just been proposed a good one? Why? Is there any evidence showing that this new method could generate more sales than cold calling? Is there a way to measure the results of this new method? Critical thinkers may conclude that this new way of approaching customers is a good one, which can be beneficial to the company they are working for.
2. Critical thinkers can determine the right course of action.
It is true that when people do business, they inevitably face high-risk situations. Such situations always require a quick and accurate decision, which will not prove wrong in the future.
For example, such professionals as doctors always rely on critical thinking in their job. When dealing with critically ill patients they must quickly analyse the information available to them and decide on the best plan of action. If they make a wrong decision, it will cost their patients their lives. Even in less urgent cases, doctors still need to use their critical thinking. For example, when they determine their patients’ treatment plan.
3. Critical thinkers can control their emotions. They do not allow their emotions to get in the way of their decision-making.
No matter what job you have, it is almost certain that you face challenging and difficult situations when working, at least once in a while. And you have noticed that sometimes your emotions can prevent you from making the right decision. So, if you possess critical thinking, you can keep your emotions at bay. You rely on the available fact rather than impulses. You collect information, thoroughly analyse it, and then come to a logical conclusion.
Critical thinking: why is it important for students?
It is true that some time ago education system in different countries was based on making students memorize facts and mindlessly repeat and retain the information that they had read in textbooks. However, these days, the situation is different.
Critical thinking is becoming one of the most crucial academic skills that every student must have. Students who possess critical thinking can understand and analyse the information they have encountered.
Critical thinking skills are especially important when students conduct research on a given question. Here are some of the benefits that students can derive from being critical thinkers.
1. Students who can think critically are more autonomous.
Indeed, if students possess critical thinking skills they can work independently. They do not need their teachers’ guidance or instructions – they are more self-reliant, and they can figure things out themselves. They are aware about their flaws and gaps in their knowledge. They can set their own goals in a more efficient way.
2. Students who can think critically are more likely to get higher grades at school.
Critical thinking skills and excellent academic results often go hand in hand. Why? Well, critical thinking allows students to connect theoretical knowledge that they have learned in class with practice.
For example, when such students learn about historic events, they can see connections between events in the past and what is happening in the present. In this way, they can conduct a thorough analysis of the current political situation rather than retain dry historic facts in their memory.
3. Students who possess critical thinking skills are better team players.
What is the link between critical thinking skills and the ability to work in a team? Well, people with a critical mind can understand the views and perspectives of their colleagues. This, of course, helps them establish better relationships and promotes team building.
6 Critical Thinking Skills That You Need to Master Now
Now that we have explained why critical thinking skills are crucial and important, let us make a list of the six most important skills that you must have in order to succeed in the future.
You need to be able to identify the situation or a problem.
Although it may sound a little abstract this skill is especially important. Simply because the first step towards solving any problem is identifying the core of the problem and understanding what factors can be contributing to it. To get a better idea of how to “identify,” you may ask yourself the following questions: Who is doing what? What is the reason for this? How can this situation change?
You need to be able to conduct research.
This is a skill that many employers value a lot. Conducting research means gathering information and finding and evaluating evidence. It also means drawing conclusions and presenting the information that you have generated. As a researcher, you need to be able to conduct surveys, interviews (including form interview questions), conduct observations. You need to be able to understand the difference between primary and secondary sources.
You need to be able to identify biases.
This skill is the most difficult to master. Truth be told, even the smartest and most sophisticated people may find it difficult to identify biases in the information presented to them. What is bias? Bias is a prejudice against or in favour of something. Biased judgement has little to do with reason. Instead, biased sources want to convince you of something they believe in.
You need to learn how to infer information from available sources to you.
Some information that you may be dealing with may not be clear. So, in this case you will need to rely on your ability to draw conclusions from what you have read or “infer.”
You need to be able to determine whether the information you are dealing with is relevant or not.
Sometimes when dealing with a problem or an issue we may be barraged by a lot of information. The main challenge in such a situation is to understand which piece of information should be taken into consideration and which one should ignore.
You need to stay curious all the time.
Critical thinkers never take the information presented to them at face value. They always question it. They are always eager to look for other sources of information. They always try to ask open-ended questions about the information they are dealing with.
It is understood that critical thinking skills are indispensable when it comes to academic life and most importantly professional careers. So, the sooner you master them, the better prepared you will be for academic and professional challenges awaiting you in the future.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.