Critical Thinking: A Life Skill

Critical thinking is a necessary skill to develop if you are to do well in the world. And by well, I mean survive. Critical thinking is making decisions based fully on logic; this means thinking beyond instincts and considering all the information and the consequences and effects the decisions would have.

One aspect of critical thinking is problem solving. This includes: recognizing a problem, finding the root cause, evaluating the available information, effectively communicating your information to those connected to your problem, then making an informed decision and acting on it. This is important for any problems you encounter in life. For instance, if you are late to work every day and are getting in trouble for it, you have to figure out what is the root cause of why you are late every day? If it’s because of transportation problems, then you need to figure out how to work around it. Then you need to communicate to your boss why you are late and what you want to do to fix it. Then make a decision on how you are going to fix the problem and act on it.

Another aspect is making judgments. All the information in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to evaluate the information, interpret the data, draw inferences, and make a solid judgment. Many times when something is brought to our attention, we are not getting all the facts, so any judgment we make will lack stability. It is important to get as much information as you can before making decisions so the decisions you make are sound. Then it’s less likely you’ll regret the decision made.

When it comes to making decisions, the first thing you need is to have a strategy. One way to evaluate a decision is to make a pros and cons list. Simply write down all the good and bad things about a decision and see which list outweighs the other. Another basic strategy is to think before you act. Don’t make impulsive decisions based on emotion instead of logic. When you take time to think about something it engages your brain and disengages your emotions. It is especially important to conduct your due diligence if the decision is going to be a major one. Don’t decide to move to a new city on a whim. Think it through. Especially since we now have all the information on the Internet available to us, it is easier than ever to get information on the new town or compare merchandise prices before you make a big expenditure.

For more information on critical thinking go to www.public.asu.edu/~macalla/cthinker.html. This website helps you to be a critical thinker for school reading assignments or class lectures.  Helpful tips keep you thinking about what is being said instead of passively accepting all that is said as truth.

For problem solving, visit the website http://www.mindtools.com/pages/main/newMN_TED.htm. This website will give several problem-solving techniques and tools you can use to find the best solution to your problem. For problem solving in the workplace, go to www.business.com/directory/human_resources/workforce_management/problem_solving/. It provides links to resources for information on problem solving in the workplace.

A great website for decision-making is www.managementhelp.org/prsn_prd/decision.htm. It contains everything from tips, traps, and tools to essays about decision making. You also can find links to pages about problem-solving and the basics of planning.

It is never too late to start using critical-thinking techniques, and the best part is you’ll see results immediately.

Jacqui

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