Do you want to know how to think critically- be a critical thinker?
Thinking critically and solving challenges is an essential aspect of all walks of life- professional or personal.
To think critically, you need to think out of the box.
You don’t have to think just like any other ordinary person.
So, what is critical thinking?
How can you become a critical thinker?
Why is critical thinking important?
We’ll answer all these questions and more in this blog post to help you discover how you can become a critical thinker.
First, What Does It Mean To Be A Critical Thinker
Critical thinking is a deliberate and systematic process of obtaining information to understand a subject or situation better and make the best decision.
In other words, critical thinking is analyzing a situation, data, facts, or any evidence related to the data.
To be a critical thinker, you have to think objectively.
This means that you should think without having feelings, biases, or opinions that can be influenced.
More so, thinking critically gives you the ability to make informed and logical decisions when necessary.
Critical thinking means you have to think well than others to have a solution to existing problems.
As a critical thinker, you should be able to do the following:
- Recognize negative points, errors, and weaknesses in the evidence.
- Reflect on beliefs, values, and assumptions.
- Know the significance and importance of ideas.
- Know the essence of an argument.
- Systematically solve problems.
- Validate other people’s opinions.
- Think critically and objectively about people’s opinions.
Everything in life has its importance.
Therefore, let’s take a look at the importance of thinking critically.
Importance Of Critical Thinking
Thinking critically is essential in the following ways:
- It gives you an edge over others.
- Critical thinking allows you to process information better and more accurately.
- Critical thinking is a crucial ingredient for improvement and self-development.
- It gives you the chance to evaluate your work.
- You can form an opinion of your own when you think critically.
- You can argue reasonably when you are a critical thinker.
- It enables you to make decisions in a challenging situation.
- You are equipped with the skills to provide solutions to problems.
- It makes you proffer solutions faster than other people.
Skills for Critical Thinking – How To Be A Critical Thinker
There are thinking skills that can help you to become a critical thinker.
Becoming a critical thinker is very important for everyone that is willing to be successful in life.
It is beneficial if you can evaluate and objectively analyze an issue or topic.
You can be a critical thinker by using the skills we will discuss in a bit.
With these, you will unlock your potential, and you will become generally relevant…
Observation – How To Be A Critical Thinker
The first skill a critical thinker need is observation.
If you are good at observing, then recognizing, a problem will come easy.
Being observant can also help you know and understand why a problem occurred or when a problem is likely to come up.
Hence, you get an advantage over others.
To possess this skill and be able to think, you have to critically:
- Take a closer look at your environment and pay attention to it; find out what is going on in that environment.
- Slow down the pace with which you process information because at a fast pace observing will be difficult.
- Listen carefully and evaluate what you hear at your workplace or outside your workplace.
- Process every information, behavior, and transaction that might be useful, don’t overlook any of it.
Research – How To Be A Critical Thinker
When you have been able to identify or observe a problem, the next thing to do is research when, how, and what caused the problem.
Evaluate the problems by knowing the information, data, and valuable facts for the existing situation.
When doing this research, endeavor to come up with unbiased information or data.
Try to ask questions that will fetch you accurate answers and information that will help you solve the problems objectively.
Overall, be a critical thinker in this regard, be ready to pick out claims that are not based on facts.
Detecting Biases – How to Be A Critical Thinker
Detecting biases sometimes can be difficult for some of us.
No matter how smart you are, you might fail at this if you aren’t careful.
Hence, be open-minded to detect or recognize biases from those involved.
Do away with your personal biases that they don’t influence your sense of reasoning or judgment.
To achieve this, you should find out if your values and beliefs are credible.
Don’t fail to accept the fact that biases do exist.
There are questions you should ask yourself when evaluating information to avoid biases.
- Who will benefit from the information given?
- Is there an agenda from the giver of the information?
- Is it possible for the source to be leaving out some information because of his claim or beliefs?
- Can the source be purposely trying to influence the audience
In all, be mindful of your biases; some biases need to be avoided, such as:
- Action Bias: Most times, we take action quickly before we take out time to think things through.
- Confirmation Bias: Subconsciously we feel that we are mostly right.
Inference – How To Be A Critical Thinker
This skill gives one the capability to make inferences and arrive at a conclusion using the information that is provided or made available.
To be effective with this skill, you need to have some experience, knowledge, or technical skills.
This is because most information used to infer and draw conclusion are sometimes limited.
It is important to know that the information obtained needs to be worked on for it to be useful and efficient.
The information comes in raw form; it is now left for you to summarize it, infer, and come up with a conclusion.
Inference as a skill is very important if you want to be a good critical thinker.
This skill gives you the opportunity to find out possible outcomes when a situation is assessed
Let’ss look at this scenario; as a teacher, you have to infer and draw a conclusion on why some students do better than others in their academics.
Another one is a mechanic finding out why a car sometimes emits smoke when you just apply oil to it.
This is limited information that needs to be developed.
An educated guess is what is you need to make an inference instead of just jumping to a conclusion, get enough information.
A critical thinker at this point takes it slow; takes a careful look at the available clues before coming to a conclusion.
These clues can be data, graphical representation, or reports.
Evaluation will come easy with the clues mentioned.
Above all, ensure that you don’t forget to ask the necessary questions when drawing inference on a situation, this is very important.
This is another important skill that you should have to be a critical thinker because there is always a lot of explaining to be done.
And the explanation you give has to be understood by your audience.
If this skill is not available, how then do you discuss topics and problems with your colleagues?
As a critical thinker, listening, understanding the views of others, and explaining them appropriately are good ways of maintaining effective communication.
This will be very useful in evaluating and interpreting solutions with colleagues.
It is easy to accept any information we receive.
However, this could lead to lots of trouble.
Curiosity will make you want to find out the source of information and how valid/ reliable such information is.
To be a critical thinker, you have to be curious about certain things because it will push you to ask the necessary questions.
Curiosity can be a tool used productively by a critical thinker.
To be more curious about things, learn to ask open-ended questions when life presents itself in different areas daily.
This is another challenging skill needed by a critical thinker.
In this case, you have to decide the information that is most suitable for consideration.
In so many scenarios, information could appear to be more important than others but can turn out wrong.
A good critical thinker should be able to determine the most important and needed information.
It can be highly challenging to pinpoint the needed information even if your objective is as clear as crystal.
To overcome this challenge, make a list of facts; it should be in the order of importance.
Doing this is sure to land you the essential information that you need.
Solving Problems – How To Be A Critical Thinker
Solving problems is another skill you require as a critical thinker.
It will be a waste of time and resources if you can’t solve problems as a critical thinker at the end of the day.
Hence, you need to offer a solution to a problem that arises, and this solution needs to be effected to determine if it is working or not.
Solving problems will be easier if you understand the information you intend to use for solving the problem.
You can also watch out how others proffer solutions to problems because this will be very helpful.
Note their methods and ask questions on how they solve problems to get better at critical thinking skills.
How To Be a Critical Thinker
To be a critical thinker, you can start by applying these tips:
Ask Necessary Questions
Ask questions to have a better understanding of subject matters.
A critical thinker needs to ask the right questions to be able to give solutions to problems.
Questions such as:
- What exactly do you know?
- How did you know this?
- Are you forgetting or overlooking anything?
- What do you want to prove or demonstrate?
- What is your motivation?
Sometimes, the solution we seek is very simple; all it takes is asking the right question and giving answers.
Assumption Should Be Questioned
It is better to ask questions and not just rely on your assumption because you can make a fool of yourself if you don’t.
Assumptions most times turn out wrong.
Hence, questioning your assumptions is very important as a critical thinker.
When your belief is evaluated and assumptions are questioned, you will know what steps to take next.
To be a critical thinker, you should not give solutions to problems based on assumptions.
Instead, you should make proper findings backed with relevant information.
Reverse things mean that you do things the other way round rather than how they are usually done.
This might seem unorthodox, but it does help a great deal.
It helps a lot, especially if you are stuck in a particular step or problem.
If you have been using a particular method to solve some problems and still don’t have a solution, then take the opposite approach.
However, if you still don’t have a solution, you would have pulled yourself out of where you were stuck initially.
And you can be certain that you are at a point where the solution is near.
Be Mentally Alert
When faced with difficult situations or problems, we realize that our thinking can be slow because our brain is stressed and sometimes confused about what is happening.
If you are not careful, your belief and value can influence your judgment.
Hence, a critical thinker should strive to remain mentally alert despite all.
You should keep your belief and values aside if you truly want to think objectively.
To be a critical thinker, you should not allow personal prejudice to influence the decisions you are about to take.
When this happens, the possibility of making wrong decisions is high.
Evaluate Your Evidence
When solving any problem, it is advisable to go through some work that is related to what you have at hand.
Solving a problem from the start may not be necessary if a problem like that existed and there was a solution to it.
You should critically evaluate any information you intend to use.
This will help you arrive at the right conclusion.
Take note of these questions:
- Who came up with the evidence?
- How was the evidence gotten?
- Why was the evidence gotten?
When you have successfully found answers to these questions, you will know how to solve the existing problem.
Critical Thinking is Not Done Every Time
It is not possible to think critically at all times; you should understand this.
Instead, it should be when it is necessary.
For instance, you should not start thinking critically about drinking water, bathing, eating, or other minor things.
When you start thinking critically every time, you will lack the strength and ability to think critically when it is needed.
Overall, there are bound to be lapses in the way you reason when you overthink everything.
Reason For Yourself
Try not to be carried away when researching; stop and think for yourself.
No matter what you read and research, you may not get the solution you are looking for.
Hence, it is advisable to think critically about what you are reading or researching on.
This could turn out to be a vital break in the problem you are trying to solve.
Understand that you can find the solutions to challenging situations when you think critically for yourself.
Hence, learn to think for yourself.
Reading expands your knowledge and gives you more exposure to subjects or topics that can help you later in the future.
More so, reading doesn’t only improve your critical thinking skills but other skills like communication, and networking skills, etc.
Hence, to think critically, you have to read extensively on a related topic that will improve this skill.
How To Improve Critical Thinking Skills
Apart from the above, you can improve your critical thinking skills through the following ways:
- Take more courses that will be useful in critical thinking.
- Go to professionals for advice in the field related to critical thinking.
- Be a volunteer in solving problems.
- Do things that will inspire you to think critically.
Conclusion On How To Be A Critical Thinker
By now, you would have noticed or observed that it is essential to be a critical thinker.
Its advantages are more than its disadvantages.
Above all, thinking critically is not something you should just do and stop after a while.
Instead, it is something that you should do continuously as that is the best way to get better at it.
Lastly, critical thinking is the best chance anyone has to survive in the world we live in today.