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Critical thinking and problem solving are two important things that are needed if any sector will grow. Critical thinking is the ability to mentally process situations and analyze ideas to give the desired result. During critical thinking, we evaluate situations not only based on the results that we already have but also dig deep into matters. A better and more suitable result is achieved through this process. Critical thinking is important in businesses and in our individual lives. If we do not want to gamble and take reckless steps, critical thinking is needed.
Problem-solving is an end product of critical thinking. We think about matters because we want to solve problems. Or why do we go through the stress of thinking and analyzing situations if we are not going to get results? Critical thinking requires an open mind to learn, discard ideas and accept new ways. A critical thinker is not one who rushes into making decisions. Because before you would do anything, you have to evaluate the options around you. Critical thinking helps to avoid making wrong decisions; a wrong decision will affect our results.
In some instances, there might have been a ready-made solution or ways of doing things, critical thinking helps us in arriving at a better option. To be a good critical thinker, you must possess good analytical skills, a good sense of reasoning, sound evaluating ability and a firm decision-making ability. Decisions are particularly important while thinking critically and solving problems. We might find ourselves undecided about how to go about things, but our ability to make firm and right decisions will help us.
Critical thinking requires that we attend to matters with the “sense of the present time.” This means that a situation like that of yesterday might need a different approach. It is possible that a lot of factors have changed between the last time and the present moment.
Steps Involved in Critical Thinking
IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM
Before doctors would administer drugs or injections to a patient, they must have diagnosed what they are facing. That is why the first step in critical thinking is identifying the problem. If the problem is not identified, we will not know what to do. Why do I need to eat when I do not identify the problem of hunger? Or why do I need to make changes when everything seems fine?
DEFINE THE PROBLEM
Defining the problem is next. What is causing the problems or why do the problems persist? Identifying the problem is not enough, analyze the problem and take a closer look at it.
The information you have will determine the level you will reach. So, gather as much information as possible. Some things will become more apparent when you research them. You learn about something you knew before when trying to solve the problem. Remember that you can only think about the things you know. The level of your understanding determines what your result will be like.
DEVELOP A STRATEGY
Next on the list is connecting the dots and developing a working strategy. You can have more than one strategy. That is why this step is important because it determines your results. Pay attention to the information you have gathered and produce a feasible strategy. Check out the pros and cons of every strategy you are developing. You can learn from people who have gone through these processes before; it can help you kill off some strategies before giving it a trial.
PUT YOUR STRATEGIES TO TEST
Put your strategies into real-time testing and see how it goes. Try them out in the best ways to get a better evaluation.
MONITOR THE PROGRESS
To get a better assessment of the testing stage, you must monitor the process. Like scientists would do with experiments, monitor the process to see where you need to adjust, add, or remove from it.
EVALUATE YOUR RESULTS
What are the results you get from the strategies, evaluate them. Which of the strategies worked faster? Which of the results is more suitable? This will help you to get the best possible solution.
Basic Principles of Critical Thinking
We have found ourselves in different fields and engagements. The way a banker thinks is different from the way an engineer would think. All our professions need critical thinking, especially professions that need lots of creativity. How relevant are the ideas to the problem? We must think within the scope of reality and possibility. What uses are irrelevant to the person involved and the problem?
Issues might seem complicated, but the idea must be simplified. That is why critical thinking must provide clarity. When a situation appears dark and stagnant, critical thinking points light to it. A person might have an idea but lack the necessary skill to communicate and establish it. Oh, Yes, the idea is there but cannot be communicated to another person. It just remains in the head and becomes confusing. If an idea is not clear, it becomes harder to find ways around it.
Critical thinking must provide accurate information and solutions. One of the steps involved in critical thinking is “gathering information”. You need to gather relevant information and facts that will boost your accuracy while thinking. The result of every critical thinking is providing accurate solutions to matters.
One must be engaged in critical thinking so as to become very good at it. Critical thinkers are flexible but consistent in their approach. Your ideas and solution must match the present need. Also, critical thinking does not rely on preexisting facts.
Critical thinking is not self-centered or biased. An open-mindedness is what gives birth to critical thinking; the passion to want to seek answers rather than relying on customs or existing means. It is also fair in the sense that it draws a well-grounded conclusion from existing ideas. Solutions obtained are evidently proven and bring in a reasonable argument.
Instead of taking pre-existing facts as the only idea, critical thinking demands additional views and scrutinization of it. More perspectives are brought into consideration and new ideas are birthed. It evaluates all shallow thoughts and superficial criticism.
Barriers To Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
As advantageous as critical thinking may look, why is it that many people do not engage in them? Critical thinking is applicable in academics, jobs, businesses and personal stuff. It leads us to get a good solution for our engagements. What are the barriers to critical thinking and problem-solving?
Time is one of the factors that affects critical thinking. At times we need to make quick decisions and time is running out. Some people might ditch critical thinking and evaluation to rush into decision making. This might be accompanied by fear and anxiety. However, it is important to know that the time used in critical thinking can save the stress of correcting the mistakes made when rushing into making decisions. In some cases, many of these mistakes may cause unchangeable or permanent damage.
FEAR, WORRIES AND ANXIETY
These are also important barriers that must be overpowered. In critical situations where one wrong decision might be costly, fear and worries can set in. The person involved can become easily distracted when this happens. Fear affects our overall growth and development in career and personal works.
A heavy workload is an enemy of critical thinking. With loads of work to do at work, many even bring remnants of their office work to their houses. They neither have time for themselves or for things around them. A heavy workload can lead to lack of quality in performance, loss of concentration and lack of critical thinking. It pushes one to live his life in circles and patterns.
LAZINESS AND DRONE MENTALITY
Critical thinking requires someone to do a lot of research, study and lots of tasking exercises. A lazy person cannot think critically. Also, a person with the drone mentality cannot think well. They rarely pay attention to details.
In group thinking, a person might not have his opinion or get to decide for himself. It is a group effort whether good or bad. Group thinking kills that passion to question every idea and situation. The inquisitive behavior that seeks to find better ways of doing things will suffer.
A man’s personality is important in critical thinking and problem solving. Ego makes you feel you don’t need other views or perspectives about life and situations. Some people have become victims of their own ego, they serve it all the time. These kinds of people lack the ability to evaluate situations and see it from a different angle. Ego kills our ability to seek more answers, it makes us feel that we already know everything.
LACK OF WISDOM IN SEEKING ANSWERS
Although, life throws us questions that need us to answer but the truth is that we don’t need to answer all. Not all questions are meant to be answered. Some are there for us to learn and move on. When we engage in lots of things at the same time, we tend to lose focus.
How To Break Barriers of Critical Thinking and Problem Solving?
1. Be open to new ways, ideas and perspectives
2. Be ready and flexible for changes
3. Organize, plan and delegate to reduce workloads
4. Choose the right associates
5. Kill fear and anxiety
6. Create quality time to reevaluate yourself
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Does every of our decisions require critical thinking?
Answer: There are some situations that do not give us the luxury of time to engage in critical thinking. Nonetheless, we should think and weigh options before making decisions.
Question: What are the tools that can help critical thinking?
Answer: You can get your writing materials, laptop or smart phones for browsing and also camera (phone camera could be used).
Question: What condition best fits critical thinking?
Answer: A place that is quiet and void of disturbance
We need to think critically before making decisions to reduce mistakes and errors in our engagements. A person who does not think before making decisions can be regarded as a fool. We need it and we must practice it.
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