How to Develop Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking is often characterized as a scientific, analytical way of thinking. It helps us form more knowledgeable opinions and make better choices. That certainly seems like a beneficial skill to have, but how do you develop the ability to think critically?

Critical thinking is not the same as higher intelligence. In layman’s terms, it’s just a more logical way to think about solutions from all angles.

Some of us may have better developed critical thinking skills than others, but we can all learn how to improve and develop our mind.

Here are some suggestions that can help you strengthen your critical thinking skills:

1. Clarify the situation. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve. You won’t be able to reasonably analyze a situation and locate a solution if you’re not completely clear on what you’re trying to accomplish!

  • It’s also important that you place your own feelings about the situation aside. You cannot get a clear understanding of the issue if you have prejudiced opinions and biases about it.

2. Hypothesize solutions. Take some time with a pen and paper to define all possibilities. At this time you’ll also want to map out how you’ll be able to reach each of these solutions.

  • Include the benefits and challenges of each solution. To learn how to improve and develop your critical thinking skills, you must be open to new ideas, so try to incorporate as much as you can into your list.

3. Gather and organize information. Next, gather as much information as possible to support all the solutions you’re considering, as well as information you need to refute them.

  • Considering your solutions from all angles will keep you from making a hasty and haphazard decision, which would not be justified as critical thinking.

4. Practice analysis and synthesis. Now you have a problem, a list of solutions, and all the information you need to support or refute each of those possibilities. So what do you do with it all?

  • You’ll need time to analyze everything. Good analysis is the art of picking apart the essential pieces that inform the whole solution. Take everything into consideration and don’t assume anything. Make sure you have irrefutable evidence to back everything up.
  • You are now ready to synthesize the most promising solutions. Good synthesis is the art of putting together essential pieces to inform a powerful and effective whole. Here you may combine and recombine the solutions and pieces of solutions that your analysis have proven most reliable.
  • The more you practice this, the better you’ll ultimately get at it, so keep plugging away.

5. Make your case. Make an intelligent conclusion to your original problem. Make sure you have the documentation to back up and prove your choices. Always make sure this is a reasonable conclusion that is relatively simple to put into action.

  • If you’ve put the time and effort into analyzing the problem and gathering the information, your conclusion should be able to support itself.

Final Thoughts on Critical Thinking

By following the steps explained here, you have just used your critical thinking skills! Though it may seem unnatural at first, as with everything, as you continue to practice these strategies, your critical thinking skills will continue to improve and develop.

Thinking critically can help you with many aspects in your life. Keep practicing these skills on a regular basis and soon you’ll enjoy the benefits of better decisions and superior choices!

All good things,
John

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