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Why Critical Thinking is Essential for the Workplace

What does critical thinking mean to you? If you think back to your undergraduate philosophy or humanities course, perhaps you recall being encouraged to apply critical thinking to interrogating texts and ideas with open-mindedness, logic, and reason. Though the term can encompass a multitude of definitions, practicing critical thinking involves observation, interpretation, analysis, and inference. But critical thinking doesn’t just happen in the classroom. Have you ever considered how your critical thinking skills can serve you in the workplace? Or, how you can train your employees in critical thinking and problem solving?

Critical thinking has become an increasingly-demanded skill in the workplace. Job candidates often add “critical thinking” to their resumes’ list of marketable skills and strengths. Employers desire intuitive, analytical job applicants, especially as the Harvard Business Review reports, business schools often favor quantitative skills over qualitative ones. Critical thinking may be de-emphasized in some business programs, but employers’ need for self-starting, self-aware, and intuitive employees has not diminished. So, how can employees gain these crucial skills to make themselves more marketable to employers? Similarly, how can business foster critical thinking through workplace training and education?

For employers seeking to train and employees looking to enhance their critical thinking, online courses can be an ideal space to gain these crucial skills. An elearning course in Critical Thinking Skills is a great place to start! Or, consider the following essential elements that make up critical thinking:

1. Logic

Logic is the foundation of critical thinking. Dating back to Socrates and the early philosophical model of questioning and reasoning, logic requires that you examine all premises and factual claims before drawing conclusions. In the workplace, you should strive to set aside other factors that affect your thinking and logically analyze the facts and information before you.

2. Open-Mindedness

A hallmark of critical thinking is remaining open to all ideas, regardless of your own biases or prior assumptions. Practice temporarily shelving your established thinking to stay open to new ideas and information that could enhance your work and productivity.

3. Curiosity

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines curiosity as “interest leading to inquiry,” a key idea for the practice of critical thinking. Approaching a new situation, new information, or even a new colleague with curiosity allows you to be open to the process of inquiry and critical thinking.

4. Adaptation

Critical thinking also requires adaptation, or the willingness to remain flexible and open-minded when new information or ideas arise. Adaptation sets critical thinking in opposition to linear, established, and normative ways of thinking. Always be ready to adapt when nonlinear, alternate ways of thinking can shift your workplace paradigm.

5. Collaboration

Critical thinking also requires collaboration to disseminate and gain knowledge from others around you. Sometimes your best projects or ideas may come from collaborating with someone with a different perspective, so approaching workplace collaboration as an opportunity for critical thinking is a worthwhile practice.

What are your best practices for critical thinking? How do you foster critical thinking in your workplace? Let us know in the comments below and try out a critical thinking course from OpenSesame today!

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