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8 Habits of Effective Critical Thinkers

by | Apr 13, 2015 | Business Strategy & Process

From time to time, team members will share their views stimulated from a piece by an industry thought leader. Here, content writer, Bobbi Parke, discusses article, “8 Habits of Critical Thinkers” by Jen Lawrence, who holds an MBA in Finance, and who has widely written and spoken on corporate culture, critical thinking, and strategic planning. August 7, 2014

8 Habits of Effective Critical Thinkers

Critical Thinking

Recently, I was a part of a discussion regarding critical thinking — specifically, the ability to make decisions, solve problems, and take appropriate actions.

As I pondered the conversation, I wondered if my assumption that my own critical thinking skills were good was accurate.

I decided that it might not hurt to do a bit of research as to what skills, exactly, a critical thinker is endowed with.

Ms. Lawrence starts out by saying, “Critical thinking… has been identified as a key skill by educators and business leaders.”

Now I’m listening.

She listed eight points that may be able to help increase one’s decision-making capabilities. I will briefly outline them here.

  1. The Five Second Rule. Ms. Lawrence illuminates the pause we all take before making a decision. This pause can use one of three parts of the brain: the instinctive, the emotional, or the rational. Either way, this gives the brain time to function at least in some capacity.
  2. Group Thinking Is Better. She asserts that more heads are better than one because effective critical thinking involves four key skills of which no one has all: gathering information, generating ideas, evaluating options, and gaining agreement.
  3. Don’t Waste Time Attempting to Change Things Outside Your Sphere of Influence.
  4. Assume nothing. Ask open-ended questions to glean necessary information, rather than trying to confirm what you already think. Don’t assume that other people think the same way that you do: ask them for their perspectives.
  5. Take Time to Figure out What the Problem is. “Often we are so eager to fix the problem that we don’t take the time to figure out what the problem really is.”
  6. Balance Reason and Emotion.
  7. Don’t Jump to Conclusions. “Critical thinkers draw conclusions from their evidence, not evidence from their conclusions.”
  8. Consider the Risk. Effective critical thinkers know how vital prevention is.

Pondering this article, I realized that each of these outlined points contributes to a higher level of critical thinking, allowing one to make better decisions, but that only one or two points may be an individual’s personal culprit. Developing a higher level of critical thinking may not be as challenging as I had originally thought. I think I’ll start with number five.

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"Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson