Critical thinking skills appear to be somewhat under threat these days. With quick and easy access to information, even common sense no longer prevails. We often hear comments such as “Well, what is that person thinking?” or “Where is that person’s common sense?”
What is critical thinking?
Critical thinking is an active process. This means that we need to literally take a break and consciously reflect on matters.
It is a skill which means that we can develop the practical ability to improve our thinking ability. So thinking skills are about being able to demonstrate the ability to:
- have a logical mind
- be aware of consequences
- be able to reason logically
- substantiate our point of view
- have a good memory
- suspend judgment
- explore alternatives
- find creative solutions
Reasons why critical thinking is essential
There are a variety of factors that necessitate us being able to think more carefully and critically. We are flooded with information on all fronts. Some of it is true but as we constantly hear these days, so much is false as well. As a result it is so easy to be caught up in the hype and drama. It does not take much for us to react instantaneously to some input. Only to find out later that it was not true.
Many people share their own views and perceptions of situations or their lives. This does not mean that it is the truth. Nor that it is your truth! The more information that is out there, the greater the onus is on us to sift through it carefully and apply some critical thinking. We need to find our own truth as opposed to someone else’s.
Everyone brings their own baggage and issues to their view of the world. A lack of critical thinking tricks us into thinking that what works for someone else will work for us too. Behind this is the fact that so many people look for quick fix answers. But life does not work that way.
Because we are human we all have vulnerabilities and issues we feel strong about. This means that when someone presses a button with us, we may well react impulsively. Therefore, it is wise to take our time before we respond. I am sure everyone can think back to a time where they sent off an email that was an emotional reaction. Only to deeply regret it afterwards.
By all means write your first reaction. But park the email until you have taken time to think about your response. Once damage has been done, trust can seldom be restored to what it was. So when you are aware of becoming really angry or upset, play for time.
Critical thinking requires time. Ensure that you ask for time to think through an issue before deciding on the course of action. This is particularly important in situations where the impact is significant. e.g. With money matters or relationships.
It is very clear these days that many decisions are made with little thought of the consequences. What has happened to critical thinking?
This happens especially when it comes to the impact on relationships. E.g. A team of young people who work together go out of their way to make nasty comments to one another. It seems as if they cannot be glad if a team member is promoted or delivers a good piece of work. Instead they focus on mistakes that are made and blow these out of proportion. This has a devastating impact on the morale. No one trusts each other anymore.
“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little, falls into lazy habits of thinking”.
If you would like to sharpen your ability to may make better decisions consider coaching.
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