Ways To Enhance Your Critical Thinking And Decision Making Skills
All of us struggle to make decisions at various points in our lives. Whether it is a career decision, a job, buying a new apartment, shifting cities, or other significant moments of life, they can make you feel stuck as if you are at crossroads.
These situations are exactly where you need critical thinking to make better decisions in life. Critical thinking is one of the essential life skills that allow you to think logically and reasonably.
This article will guide you through all the steps and processes for enhancing your critical thinking and decision-making skills.
WHAT IS THE CRITICAL THINKING PROCESS
Critical thinking is different from habitual thinking. You don’t use critical thinking in your everyday decisions, such as what to eat for breakfast or where to go shopping.
So, what exactly is critical thinking?
The critical thinking process is defined as gathering information and analyzing it through logic, creativity, and reasoning and finally reaching a conclusive decision. It helps you look into a situation from various perspectives and make the best decision.
If you are a job aspirant, you are more likely to impress your employers through your critical thinking and analytical skills. Critical thinking is not a mere collection of information; it is a way to approach the best possible decision in the situation under consideration.
A critical thinker does,
- distinguish facts from biased opinions
- explore the various perspectives of a situation
- examine self-thoughts and reactions in different situations
- recognize reasons behind other people’s actions
- keeps an open mind and has an inquisitive nature
- knows to distinguish between facts and opinions based upon emotions
- apply the techniques of introspection for looking inward and examining one’s own thoughts and beliefs.
A critical thinker does not,
- come up with conclusions immediately
- stick firmly to his beliefs without making room for new perspectives
- fall prey to his own biases
THE STEPS OF THE CRITICAL-THINKING PROCESS
Following are the detailed steps of the critical thinking process.
The first step in the critical thinking process is to gather enough information to help you with the decision-making process. Here the quality of information matters; do not just listen to any opinion that comes your way. Instead, use your prior knowledge and search for information from credible sources like experts in a particular field (Research prospect), newspapers, and websites on the internet with relevant information.
For example, while deciding which college to opt for after high school, you can search for colleges with top rankings, ask your professors for their expert opinions, and make a list of your choices.
Analyze and Evaluate the Gathered Information
The next step is to analyze the gathered information and look for its authenticity and credibility. You need to evaluate the information to draw inferences and look into the possible outcomes of various options.
When you ask for expert opinions about any issue, you should look for why someone says something? What is the general thought behind their statement?
In this way, you would be able to analyze the information in a better way. The following considerations can formulate the basis of your evaluation.
- How much time do you have to make a decision?
- Who can be affected by your decision?
- What are your available resources?
Draw Conclusions by Considering Implications of Your Options
The next step in the critical thinking process is to consider your various options and think about each possible consequence. You may also need to evaluate the pros and cons of each option before reaching a conclusion. You can do this by applying techniques of logical reasoning. Taking the previously quoted example of selecting a college, you can consider the consequences of choosing each option, such as:
- What will happen if you select a particular college?
- Will you have to shift to a hostel?
- Will you fit in the institute’s environment?
Considering all the gathered information and after careful analysis of each option, you should conclude based upon logical reasoning that would lead to the final decision.
HOW TO GET BETTER AT CRITICAL THINKING?
The following tips will be handy for improving your critical thinking skills.
Understand your thought process
Make it a habit to sit back sometimes and analyze yourself, your thought process, and your reactions in various situations.
- Why do you react in a particular way?
- What are the likely outcomes of your reactions?
- Do you haste in making decisions?
Understanding and evaluating your mental process and becoming more self-aware can strengthen your critical thinking.
Develop the habit of reading
In the current times, many of us have left the habit of reading due to the busy schedules. However, if you want to improve your critical thinking skills, you should read more to develop your focus and comprehensive abilities.
Avoid logical fallacies
For getting better at critical thinking, you should avoid logical fallacies, which are invalid, faulty, and biased reasoning. When you encounter a situation, instead of instantly jumping to conclusions and believing something because many people believe it, you should decide on a factual basis and develop reasonable claims.
Develop active listening skills
Listening to other people’s opinions and paying attention to their views and actions can improve your critical thinking skills. Active listening can enhance your focus and knowledge that further develops your thought process.
Asking questions is an excellent way to evoke your thought process. This does not mean raising petty issues and being inquisitive to an unacceptable extent. It would be best to raise logical questions and get detailed information about certain aspects you are unsure of.
WHY IS CRITICAL THINKING REQUIRED IN DECISION MAKING
The heaps of information and opinions bombarded at us every day can affect the decision-making process. You can get confused while making life decisions due to various biased opinions based upon people’s own life experiences.
A wide range of choices in various situations is another reason due to which you may feel stuck in making a decision. Most people can get confused when they encounter a situation with a choice overload. You can spend a lot of time deciding what to buy in a shopping mall due to various options. This is an example of choice overload.
Another important aspect that affects the decision-making process is the fear of taking risks and sticking with what you already know instead of exploring new options and choosing something different. Being resistant to change can hinder a proper decision-making process.
These are the reasons due to which critical thinking is regarded as an essential skill for making correct decisions. The critical thinking process formulates the basis of informed decision-making. It is the process through which you can reach a particular decision based upon enough logic and reasoning.
HOW IS CRITICAL THINKING USED IN DECISION MAKING?
In your significant life decisions that can have long-term consequences, making random choices is not the best approach to adapt. You can incorporate critical thinking in your decision-making through the following ways:
Learn to differentiate between everyday situations and critical situations where you need to make correct decisions to avoid future hassle and worry. You should devote your time and energy to those decisions that are likely to have significant impacts on your life.
Take time to gather as much information as you can to support the decision-making process.
After gathering information about all the available options, you should think critically about what options are best suited for your preferences. You should analyze the possible outcomes of each option before coming up with a final decision.
You can discuss all your options with other people such as your peers, professors, and colleagues to get various perspectives and broaden your viewpoint.
After obtaining various viewpoints and facts about a particular situation, you should utilize your thought process to take active and informed decisions instead of simply getting manipulated by opinions.
While deciding upon a particular aspect, you don’t just need to find evidence in its favor. Instead, it would help if you dug deeper and also see the demerits of making that choice so that your final decision is the best choice possible in your particular situation.
An important aspect of decision-making is to make yourself open to unknown facts and opinions. Most of us fall victim to the confirmation bias and make decisions based upon our previous knowledge and experience instead of letting it go for some time and making room for new approaches.
It does not necessarily mean that your prior knowledge and expertise are flawed. It would help if you looked at both the positive and negative sides of your preferred choice. Through this practice, you would make yourself aware of whether your decision needs improvement or is perfect in every possible way.
IMPORTANCE OF CRITICAL THINKING IN DECISION MAKING
While making important decisions, instead of relying on standard practices and routine processes, you can identify various approaches to a particular perspective that may be previously unknown to you through critical thinking.
In workplaces, leadership and teamwork are the necessary qualities for effective decision making, both of which can be improved through critical thinking. Instead of staying firm on your beliefs, you can listen effectively to other opinions too and adopt a holistic approach.
Instead of struggling to make a decision and getting confused after listening to differing opinions, through critical thinking, you can filter out the irrelevant information and only analyze those opinions that are relevant to the situation under consideration.
People are likely to hurry up and make wrong decisions under pressure. However, if you incorporate critical thinking in your thought process, you can remain calm in stressful situations and make better decisions.
Through critical thinking, you can bring clarity to your decisions. You will sound more confident as you will have analyzed all perspectives and applied logic and reasoning behind your final decision.
You can easily convince other people to agree with your final decision. You would have valid points and justification behind everything you say or do and communicate effectively with other people.
A CASE SCENARIO OF INCORPORATING CRITICAL THINKING IN DECISION MAKING
Let’s take a case scenario to further understand critical thinking in decision making by comparing two options and making a final decision through critical thinking in a step-by-step process.
Identification of Problem:
Say you have to choose between sticking to your current job or shifting to a new job in a multinational firm that offers a better salary package.
- in the hometown
- offers a lower salary package
- in another city
- offers a higher salary package
In this scenario, you can immediately come up with a response depending upon your individual preferences. This initial response is based upon your emotions and your usual way of thinking. Now, let’s dig deeper and think from all the perspectives.
Compare Your Options
The next step would be to analyze your options critically and take into account all the relevant factors such as,
- comfort of home
- a higher salary package
- cost of rent in another city
- going away from family for a specific period
- experience of working in a multinational firm
Considering all these factors, you would evaluate your preferences and decide objectively. Here you should keep one thing in mind that the best decision would not be the same for all; the fundamental purpose of critical thinking is to decide what suits you the best through logic and reasoning under your individual circumstances.
GIVE POINTS TO EACH OPTION OR IDENTIFY PROS AND CONS
An easy way to decide between each option is to list down all the factors and give each one points of importance. Your current job would score higher in the case of residence as you may have your own home, but the second job would score lower due to rent costs in another city. Similarly, experience in a multinational firm through the second job may be assigned higher points. In the end, you can add up all the points for each option and see the winning side.
You can also compare your options by listing down each option’s pros and cons based on your preferences.
Think about Consequences
You can effectively decide between the two jobs by thinking about the long-term consequences. What will be the benefits or disadvantages of shifting jobs in a month, a year, or several coming years.
Think as if You Are Advising Yourself
Thinking as a third person and viewing your situation from the outside can also help you make better decisions instead of just being influenced by your emotions and preferences. Think objectively as if you are suggesting a friend who is in a similar situation and has to make a decision. What points would you raise, and how would you pass your judgment.
After all these steps, you would be able to make a better decision based upon your situation, considering all the factors and pros and cons of both options.
Idrees Shafiq is a Content Marketing Manager at Essay UK with diverse experience in the field of Digital Marketing. He has helped companies achieve their marketing goals through creative, well-researched content that follows the best SEO practices. | LinkedIn | Twitter |
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