What are Analytical Skills? How to Improve Them?
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it,” said Greek…
January 7, 2021 | 7 mins read
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it,” said Greek philosopher Aristotle.
He was talking about the ability to think through or assess something before making a decision. We usually do think through any decision we make. For instance, if someone gives you advice on how to plan your career, you won’t take it at face value. You’ll take your time, think about how it can benefit or harm you and then decide whether you want to accept it.
Similarly, when it comes to problem-solving, your analytical skills help you evaluate facts before reaching a conclusion. Weighing the pros and cons is a critical aspect of analytical thinking.
If you can think about problems objectively—without bias or prejudice—you’re well on your way to achieving success in your career.
Let’s look at what is analytical ability and how to develop analytical skills with examples. Not only will your analytical ability help you shine at your current workplace but will also lead you to better opportunities.
Whether you’re an accountant or a writer, analytical skills can help you make a difference in your career. The ability to think clearly without letting anything overshadow your thought process is a powerful one. It helps you stay calm under pressure and navigate your way around the workplace.
Think about the time when you had a conflict with a coworker. Now, this might have gone one of two ways:
You get into a shouting match with each other where no one wins and it leaves you with a bitter taste, effectively ruining your relationship.
You take a step back, reconvene when you’re thinking clearly and come up with viable solutions for a win-win outcome.
The second option is one where you would have applied your analytical ability to evaluate and understand the situation. Jumping to conclusions doesn’t help anyone. Instead, it can create hostility at the workplace and lead to poor results.
Analytical skills like critical thinking, problem-solving and attention to detail form a strong foundation for better decision-making. These skills can help you make sense of a situation and come up with the best solutions. They will also help you overcome setbacks, take effective managerial decisions and build constructive relationships at work.
Analytical skills help you streamline your tasks to improve performance. Breaking down complex problems into smaller understandable parts is at the heart of analytical skills.
Understanding different examples of analytical skills will benefit you during a job interview. You can highlight your analytical ability with supporting examples to impress the hiring manager.
Here are some critical analytical skills that you can develop over time:
At the workplace, you don’t just have to focus on your work but also on your interpersonal relationships. Attention to detail will help you pick up on social cues like how others respond to you. This is critical if you want to build strong bonds with your team members. Additionally, if you’re specific about your tasks, you can minimize errors. For instance, if you work carefully on a spreadsheet, your manager won’t have to spend hours editing and correcting your mistakes.
If you’re working on a project, it’s important to collect, evaluate and assess the right kind of information. Instead of gathering everything you find, you have to decide what you need for the project’s success. Data analysis will help you sift through the facts and figures to keep only the relevant information. You’ll be able to present complex information simply via graphs and charts, making it easy for others. This is an essential analytical skill because it can help you get your point across in a few words and with limited explanation.
Learning to simplify and evaluate information is an important and helpful skill in the workplace. Asking the right questions before making decisions will introduce you to novel ways to approach a situation. It’s a good practice to think before you accept the first solution that comes up. Critical thinking is about making sound assumptions, considering different perspectives and weighing the pros and cons. It leads to effective decision-making that satisfies all stakeholders involved in the project.
Considering each aspect of the project will improve its chances of success. This means that you’ll have to evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Taking an objective and unbiased approach will mitigate errors. You can draw sound conclusions and make fact-based decisions. If there are areas for improvement, working on them will guarantee a positive outcome.
The most important analytical skill is decision-making. You are required to make decisions about a series of things at your workplace every day. Putting your ideas into action needs analytical thinking skills.
Making an action plan for problem-solving or rolling out a project also requires effective decision-making. Developing your skills will help you stand out at work, ask relevant questions and overcome your limitations. You’ll seek help when needed and apply your expertise without hesitation.
Make progress in your career and become a thinking professional by developing your analytical skills. Whether it is approaching problems without judgment or listening to others for their opinions, these are all analytical skills that can transform you into a standout professional and a better person.
Here’s how to improve your analytical ability:
Mental models are a thinking tool to make you dig deeper to get to the bottom of a problem. One of the most popular mental models is the first principles model. According to this, you go back to the basics to solve a problem. Rather than relying on existing formulas and solutions, you start from scratch and create your own. Simplify complex problems by creating your own mental models like mind maps to distill information.
Before you jump into a conversation or a problem, learn to observe first and act later. You can learn a lot by simply watching people. The way they speak, think and act can teach you things you never expected. For instance, your manager may be an effective speaker. Observing how they command a room will give you an idea about how you can improve your own speaking skills. It’s important to take a moment and think through a situation before you leap into it.
Problem-solving and decision-making will compel you to step out of your comfort zone. If you want to make decisions that are sound, effective and feasible, you have to think deeper. You can’t simply implement the first thing that comes to mind. For this, you’ll have to do more than you’re used to, which may make you uncomfortable at first. Having discussions with your coworkers, giving up on your views for someone else’s or even letting go of your biases involves doing something out of the ordinary.
It’s one thing to trust, but another to accept everything at face value. Although you should respect others’ views, you should be curious enough to question things when needed. If you’re accepting everything as it comes, you may just be getting lazy. Being curious means that you’ll ask important questions. This questioning can lead you to effective, creative and lucrative solutions. Don’t shy away from asking questions because if you do, it will show that you’re interested and invested in the project or problem.
Most of us forget to listen well, even if we’d like to believe otherwise. Listening well is not just about hearing words, it’s about taking that information and making something of it. Be interested in what others are saying, look at things from their perspective and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Process the information that you’re receiving and give the listener your complete attention. Not only will this help you learn more but also strengthen your relationships.
There are multiple ways to develop your analytical ability. Learn about how to think critically with Harappa Education’s Thinking Critically course. With frameworks like Mental Models and the Circle of Competence, you’ll identify ways to think through and find relevant solutions. It’s not just about finding your strengths but also knowing your limitations. Think critically for personal and professional growth and maximize your impact at the workplace.