As Albert Einstein astutely said, “Education is not the learning of facts, but training the mind to think.”
Critical thinking can be described as the ability to think rationally and clearly about what to do or believe in a given situation. It improves the quality of the thinker’s thoughts by imposing standards and cultivating good habits and discipline. It involves five key elements:
1. Being highly observant
2. The ability to listen well
3. Actively engaging in reflective and independent thinking
4. The ability to get outside one’s own head, opinions and value system and display open-mindedness
5. Being able to understand the logical connections between ideas
Why is Critical thinking An Important Skill To Learn?
Critical thinking is at its heart intentional and excellent. Left to our own devices, we are often inclined to think in a biased, distorted, lazy, uninformed and low-quality way.
There are many benefits to improving your critical thinking skills. Here are six:
1. Improved cognitive skills – the ability to better understand people, situations, problems, events and come up with optimum solutions, fast.
2. It allows you to stay calm and rational under stress – being able to engage in critical thinking gives you an emotional buffer in times of high pressure and stress. You can take a step back from the intensity of a situation and see the bigger picture, preventing you from going into panic or catastrophe mode. It provides a foundation of logical decision-making on which you can draw in any given situation.
3. Higher professional development and achievement – critical thinkers are typically given greater positions of responsibility and pay because they make better decisions based on all the information, including all the people involved and with greater integrity.
4. Allows you to become a better team player – when you understand people and situations well, you can get on with all types of people more harmoniously and are able to communicate on a deeper level. Rather than being inflexible and rigid and emotionally volatile, you’ll be able to meander the professional environment and people you work with in a graceful and empathic way, which is an attribute of great a team player.
5. You save time – thinking in a critical way allows you to filter out unnecessary information and how to prioritise your time and resources by analysing what is essential to the process. It also allows you to reach a good decision faster.
Critical thinking involves being in control of your emotions but without being purely logical or emotionless. Next, read my article of How to Manage Your Emotions in 5 Easy Steps.