How to Broaden Your Critical Thinking Skills?
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Critical thinking has been identified as one of the top 10 skills needed to stay relevant in 2020 by The World Economic Forum (WEF) report. It has further been estimated that 60-70per cent of workplace success can be attributed to intangible skills such as EQ, teamwork, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, cognitive flexibility and critical thinking among other key skills.
In a Country like India where the educational ecosystem has focused primarily on the development of technical skills or learning for better grades/marks, where do young graduates go to hone pertinent skill sets such as critical thinking? And how do they get evaluated for even thinking critically?
Points on developing critical thinking skills and how you can broaden your own critical thinking abilities are as follows:
- Ask Open-Ended Questions: One of the starting points of developing critical thinking abilities is to ask basic “what” or “how” questions. Don’t accept assumptions and statements as is and make sure you develop the mental ability to question. However, it is also important to manage the fine line between asking effective questions and too many questions or posing too many challenges!
- Change Your Lens: Broaden your outlook by overcoming your inherent biases and assumptions to look at issues or situations through other perspectives. Be aware of your own mental processes and heuristics (mental shortcuts).
- Info Gather: Use facts, data, theories and do your research thoroughly to ensure that you understand the different viewpoints and compare arguments on the subject matter. Don’t fall prey to unsourced claims and develop the ability to identify them.
- Don’t Make It Personal: It is important to self-check to ensure that you take an objective view of the topic at hand. Strong critical thinkers do their best to evaluate information objectively and recognize their own biases.
- Draw Conclusions: The ability to make inferences and draw conclusions from the information presented to you is another key skill to mastering the art of critical thinking. Remember, an inference is an educated guess and your ability to make an inference will depend on your ability to gather as much information, understand different perspectives and assess before jumping to any conclusions.
- Read Smart: In the Forbes August 2018 report, they identified the ability to learn how to learn and read intelligently as key skills to stay relevant. With the volume of information available to us today, it is important to master the art of “reading smart” to hone in on the relevant information.
- Be Open-Minded: Curiosity, humility and the ability to receive feedback and critique on our viewpoints is equally important. When presenting our analyses, it is also important to give equal weightage to alternative opinions or recommendations. They could help in making our argument stronger!
Remember, you don’t have to think critically all the time but use it as an effective tool for you to deploy when solving important problems or making key decisions!