Critical Thinking

Developing the Right Mindset and Skills

© iStockphoto

Use curiosity and rigor to understand what you're dealing with.

We make hundreds of decisions every day and, whether we realize it or not, we're all critical thinkers.

There are the near-automatic choices between drinking tea or coffee in the morning or between eating a ham or a cheese bagel for lunch. And there are more agonizing decisions to be made, such as choosing new clothes or deciding where to go for this year's vacation. At work, we have to consider the value of opposing arguments, analyze the potential of new products, or forecast the outcome of a project.

We're thinking critically whenever we weigh up our options, prioritize our responsibilities, or think ahead to the likely effects of doing something. The trouble is, research shows that we're not always very good at it. Yet more and more employers are naming critical thinking as a required skill in their job advertisements.

So we need to think more about how we think, and to bring discipline and rigor to our thought processes. The payoff from this effort is that we'll equip ourselves to make better judgments, choices and decisions in all areas of our lives.

This article introduces you to a wide range of tools that you can start using straight away to develop your critical thinking skills.

What Is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is the discipline of rigorously and skilfully using information, experience, observation, and reasoning to guide your decisions, actions and beliefs. You'll need to actively question every step of your thinking process to do it well. For example, have you considered all the facts? Have you tested your assumptions? Is your reasoning sound? Can you be sure your judgment is unbiased? Is your thinking process logical, rational and complete? Critical thinking embraces all of these.

Developing the Right Mindset for Critical Thinking

Prime yourself for success by adopting an appropriate mindset before you work on developing specific skills....

Access the Full Article

This article is only available in full within the Mind Tools Club.

Learn More and Join Today

Already a Club member? Log in to finish this article.