Sanjay was checking his emails like he does every day. As he was scrolling, he saw an email from his friend, Vijay, and wondered why would Vijay email instead of calling or sending a message?

Sanjay was suspicious but he read the email quickly. Vijay had written that he was on vacation in Kenya and had run into legal trouble. The authorities there had put him in jail. If he didn’t pay bail, he risked lifelong imprisonment. He begged Sanjay to help and asked him to send money to a certain address.

Fortunately, Sanjay practices critical thinking.

Before rushing to Vijay’s aid, he asked himself some questions:

  • Is Vijay even in Africa? Sanjay called his family to find out

  • Sanjay re-read the email to analyze if it matched what he knew of Vijay’s style

  • Sanjay also tried to track down the owner of the address where Vijay had asked him to send money

As any critical thinker would do, Sanjay looked for information online. And he found out about the phishing scheme to cheat people off their money and personal data. Vijay’s family confirmed that he isn’t in Africa. It’s Sanjay’s critical thinking skills that prevented him from falling prey to this online phishing scheme.

What is Critical Thinking?

Have you ever heard of critical thinking skills? Why is it so important? During the process of understanding what is critical thinking, you will understand the importance of thinking rationally and clearly.

From evaluating online information to choosing a career path to problem-solving at the workplace, you will be reminded of the importance of critical thinking in every sphere of your life. But how do you know if you are a critical thinker?

Well, if you have critical thinking skills, you will be able to:

  • Understand the logical connections between seemingly random ideas

  • Identify, evaluate, and construct arguments

  • Find out inconsistencies in reasoning

  • Reflect on justifying your values and beliefs

What Is NOT Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is not about filling in information. Your nerdy friend with a good memory and capacity to recall random information at opportune moments need not necessarily be a great critical thinker. Critical thinking is more about using the information and facts you know to find the connections between ideas, analyze things rationally and arrive at a reasonable solution.

There’s also a difference between thinking critically and being critical. So your teacher at college or team manager who constantly criticizes everyone need not necessarily be a critical thinker.

Why do employers value critical thinking?

Whether you aspire to work in an international organization or a mid-sized company, every employer appreciates candidates who can assess the situation and come up with a logical solution.

Time is a valuable resource for managers and decision-makers. Therefore, managers and recruiters prefer to work with employees who can make correct decisions without supervision.

Critical Thinking: A Necessity for Management and Small Business Owners Alike

Many of us believe that critical thinking skills can only be deployed when working in a team or meeting deadlines.  But whether you are a graduate student in a dilemma about what career to choose or a business owner wondering what your next steps should be, critical thinking skills are required in all sorts of situations.

Still can’t think of a situation where you will need to use your critical thinking skill? Don’t worry—here are two situations that every business owner and manager often face.

Falling Short of Supplies

You own a small business making custom notebooks with design inserts. You promote this product as a great gift idea. And every year your holiday orders break your previous sales record.

But this year you are falling short of materials ahead of the holiday season.

As a critical thinker, you ask yourself these questions:

  • What exactly is the problem? You realize you are facing a shortage of dividers for the notebooks

  • What can you infer? You search for another supplier who can help deliver the dividers to you without delay

  • Will communication help? You contact the other supplier and order  more dividers

Hurray, your holiday orders are fulfilled on time! All thanks to your critical thinking skills that solved the problem.

Product Launch Problems

Your company is all set to launch a new product soon. As a product manager, it’s your job to see that the product is ready in a week.

But you face a complex situation as the legal and regulatory team isn’t ready to sign off on documentation without more data on product testing.

The directors are adamant about not postponing the product launch.

How do you handle this situation? You apply your critical thinking skills:

  • What is the exact problem? The regulatory team requires more testing. But you are under pressure from the directors not to postpone the launch date.

  • Will communication help? You discuss with the regulatory team and figure out what kind of testing they require

  • How can you meet the timeline? After the testing is done, you can call a meeting and have everyone sign the documents at once

Wow, you got the required testing done and got every concerned person to sign the documents. Just in time for the launch! You overcame the time pressure because of your advanced critical thinking skills.

You now have a clearer idea of how critical thinking can help you reach goals at the workplace. To continue climbing the ladder of success you have to start with the Ladder of Inference.  It’s a four-step approach in Harappa’s Thinking Critically course to help you understand how to process information.

Want to learn more about the importance of critical thinking? Here you go:

Importance of Critical Thinking in Everyday Life

  1. Domain-general skill

So what career have you chosen for yourself? Education, research, finance, management, or the legal profession? What’s the most important skill you need in the field you work in?  Education, professional skills, experience and the ability to think critically. These are domain-general skills that you can apply to any field.

  1. New knowledge economy 

It is clear now that the global knowledge economy is powered by information and technology. Data has become a lot more accessible, but it is also more voluminous..  The swathes of information available online and offline bear ample testimony to the importance of critical thinking. Without thinking critically, we won’t be able to sift through reams of information and extract relevant bits from it.

The ability to adapt quickly has become crucial in today’s world. To adapt in today’s fast-moving economy, you need flexible intellectual and critical thinking skills.

  1. Avoiding emotional reactions

We have all experienced the consequences of emotionally-motivated actions and decisions. Perhaps that’s why experienced people often advise younger folks not to react when they are angry, promise when they are happy, or decide when they are sad. But why does this happen? In heightened emotional states, we are far from thinking clearly about the situation.

It’s only when we analyze and evaluate the situation rationally that we can effectively express our thoughts and ideas.

  1. Improves creativity

What’s the root of creativity? Ideas not only have to be new, but they also have to be relevant.  Your critical thinking abilities play a crucial role in evaluating these ideas and make it easier to select the best ones.

  1. Self-reflection 

“The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life.”

Author Deepak Chopra’s quote does a good job of summing up the importance of self-reflection. Every one of us has a value system and beliefs that we are often called upon to justify. Evaluating yourself and what you hold dear is central to self-improvement. Critical thinking can help you study yourself.

In our personal and professional lives, we all face situations where we have to think critically. It’s the one skill that you must possess to have a successful career and maintain healthy relationships. But how can you develop and master critical thinking skills? It’s simple! Join the Thinking Critically course at Harappa Education and become a better critical thinker under the guidance of industry experts.

Explore our Harappa Diaries section to know more about topics related to the Think habit such as the Meaning of Arguments, Creative Thinking & Design Thinking.

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