Critical thinking skills can undoubtedly help in many situations at work. A critical thinker knows how to respond to a problem quickly and look at multiple angles of a situation. She also knows how to assess information and accept advice. According to the Foundation for Critical Thinking at Criticalthinking.org, critical thinking is a process that involves conceptualizing, synthesizing, analyzing, applying and evaluating information. Knowing how to use all of these skills will make you a stronger employee and a smarter decision-maker.
Compliance vs. Collaboration
Followers comply, but critical thinkers collaborate. A critical thinker knows how to assess information and analyze it for validity and relevance. If you understand how to look at information from multiple angles without relying on assumptions, you're less likely to comply with something simply because it's what you're told. Instead, your thought process will cause you to naturally question, confirm or adapt. In the workplace, this is crucial because each employee is responsible for making sure that information is correct.
Creating a polished final product requires a critical eye and a willingness to look for flaws. Critical thinkers do just that. The ability to assess a product or a piece of information for correctness, functionality and other qualities is crucial to maintaining a high level of standards for your company. Without critical thinkers, the workplace will suffer from mediocrity. According to Criticalthinking.org, most human thought is flawed with bias and assumption, and critical thinking is a process that helps you recognize and correct your flaws. For instance, in the workplace, you may feel biased toward a final product because you created it, but thinking critically about it will help you look at it objectively.
Breaking New Ground
Without critical thinkers, innovative ideas would never come about. A critical thinker notices problems and flaws and works mentally to find creative ways to solve them. Sometimes this results in new technology, a new management system, or a risky idea that turns out to be a winner. Critical thinking is crucial if you want your company to succeed and have longevity too.
Non-critical thinkers create a status quo that causes discomfort for some and false confidence for those who follow it. Conversely, critical thinkers create an environment where conversation fosters new ideas. Critical thinking builds empathy and gives you a healthy dose of self-reflection. When dealing with a conflict, you have to set aside your ego and find a solution that respects each colleague's position. Critical thinking can guide you in making a fair decision that benefits the company as a whole.
Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.