Article published on LinkedIn.com: April 05, 2023
No matter where you live, what industry interests you, or what
experience you've already had, we've all seen firsthand the
importance of critical thinking.
In fact, the lack of such skills can truly make or break a
person's career, as the consequences of their inability to
process and analyze information effectively can be massive.
The ability to think critically is more important today than
it has ever been. It's all on the line if we don't all learn
to think more critically.
If people can't think critically, they not only reduce their
chances of moving up the ladder in their respective
industries, not only they also become easily susceptible to
things like fraud and manipulation.
With that in mind, you're probably wondering what you can do
to make sure you're not one of those people.
Developing your critical thinking is something that requires
the most concentrated work.
It may be best, to begin by exploring the definition of
critical thinking and the skills it includes.
Once you've done that, you can then venture on to the
all-important question: how can I improve?
I will point out to you that this is not an easy task. So
below you can break down the basics of critical thinking, to
hone your skills and become a better critical thinker.
What is critical thinking?
Even if you want to be a better critical thinker, it's hard to
improve what you can't define. Critical thinking is the
analysis of a problem or situation and related facts, data, or
evidence. Ideally, critical thinking should be conducted
objectively, that is, without being influenced by feelings,
opinions, or biases. It focuses only on factual information.
Critical thinking is a skill that allows you to make logical,
informed decisions as well as you can. For example, a child
who has not yet developed such skills may believe that the
tooth fairy left money under his pillow based on stories, his
parents told him. A critical mind, however, can quickly
conclude that the existence of such a thing is unlikely, even
if there are a few dollars under their pillow.
Although there is no universal standard for the skills
included in the critical thinking process, below you will find
a basic critical thinking process.
the first step in the critical thinking process is to identify
the situation or problem and the factors that may influence
it. Once you have a clear picture of the situation and the
people, groups, or factors that can be influenced, you can
then begin to dig deeper into a problem and its potential
For example, a new situation, question, or scenario, pause to
take a mental inventory of the state of affairs by asking
yourself the following questions:
Who does what ?
What seems to be the reason for this?
What are the end results and how might they change?
when comparing arguments on an issue, independent research
ability is essential. The arguments are persuasive. This means
that the facts and figures presented in their favor could lack
context or come from dubious sources. The best way to combat
this is through independent verification, to find the source
of the information and assess it.
For example, it can be helpful to develop a sense of doubt
about un-sourced claims. Does the person making the argument,
indicate where they got this information from?
If you ask or try to find it yourself and there is no clear
answer, this should be seen as a red flag. It is also
important to know that not all sources are equally valid. So,
take the time to learn the difference between the different
sources, in order to have a clearer picture.
this skill can be extremely difficult, as even the smartest
among us may not recognize bias. Strong critical thinkers do
their best to objectively evaluate information. Think of
yourself as a judge in that you want to weigh the claims of
both sides of an argument, but you'll also need to keep in
mind any biases each side may have.
It is equally important, and arguably more difficult, to learn
to put aside your biases that may cloud your judgment. Have
the courage to debate and discuss your own thoughts and
assumptions. This is essential for learning to see things from
You should be aware that there are biases. When evaluating
information or an argument, ask yourself the following
Who does this benefit?
Does the source of this information seem to have an agenda?
Does the source overlook, ignore or does she leave out
information that does not support their beliefs or claims?
Does this source use unnecessary language to influence the
public's perception of a fact?
the ability to infer and draw conclusions based on the
information presented to you is another important skill for
mastering critical thinking. Information is not always
accompanied by a summary that explains what it means. You will
often need to evaluate the information provided and draw
conclusions based on raw data.
The ability to infer allows you to extrapolate and discover
potential outcomes when evaluating a scenario. It is also
important to note that not all deductions will be correct. For
example, if you read that a person weighs 260 pounds, you can
assume that they are overweight or unhealthy. However, other
data points like height and body composition can alter this
An inference is an educated guess, and your ability to infer
correctly can be honed by making a conscious effort to gather
as much information as possible before jumping to conclusions.
When you are faced with a new scenario or situation to assess,
first try to look for clues, things like titles, pictures, and
prominent statistics, and then make it a point to ask yourself
what you think is going on.
The determination of relevance:
one of the hardest parts of thinking critically during a
difficult scenario is figuring out what information is most
important to consider. In many scenarios you will be presented
with information that may seem important, but it may just be a
minor data point to consider.
The best way to better determine relevance is to establish a
clear direction in what you are trying to understand.
Are you in charge of finding a solution?
Should we identify a trend?
If you determine your end goal, you can use it to inform your
judgment of what is relevant. However, even with a clear
objective, it can be difficult to determine what information
is really relevant.
One strategy to combat this is to make a physical list of data
points ranked in order of relevance. When you parse it this
way, you'll likely end up with a list that includes some
obviously relevant information at the top of your list, in
addition to some points at the bottom that you can probably
ignore. From there, you can focus on the less clear topics
that reside in the middle of your list for further evaluation.
it's incredibly easy to sit back and take anything presented
to you for cash, but it can also be a recipe for disaster when
faced with a storyline that requires critical thinking.
It might seem like an inquisitive mind is just something
you're born with, practice stimulating that curiosity in a
All it takes is a conscious effort to ask open-ended questions
about the things you see in your day-to-day life, and then you
can invest time in following up on those questions.
Being able to ask open-ended questions is an important skill
to develop and even more so to be able to probe deeper.
Remember, thinking critically is vital for anyone looking to
achieve career success and a successful life. Your ability to
objectively analyze and evaluate complex topics and situations
will always come in handy.
Confronted with a situation think of the Greek philosopher
« I know you won’t believe
me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question
oneself and others. »
Find out more about « critical thinking » with My
Success Is Your Success. The book through questions,
quotes and reflections provides the necessary elements to
explore yourself so to shape your success and help those
around you do the same. Remember that success is all about
Find out more about «
critical thinking » with My Success Is Your Success.
The book through questions, quotes and reflections provides
the necessary elements to explore yourself so to shape your
success and help those around you do the same. Remember that
success is all about team efforts!
This book is the result of forty years
of experience acquired with local and international
organizations and companies and during consultancy,
change management, transition and marketing services.
personal development book was published by WebTech
Publishing and is available online in English, North
American French and European versions. For more
information and to view the flip book, visit
About the Author
ISO Pour Tous
– Le manuel
d’information ISO – Le guide de préparation ISO – La
gestion du changement en affaires – La gestion de
projet d’affaires – Le
changement POUR TOUS –
Change your future,
now! – Mon succès est votre succès.
Germain Decelles, o.s.j.
WebTech Management et Publication Incorpored