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Think Critically

10 November 2022

Do you ever say “I think” when you haven’t thought? Most people understand the importance and value of effective thinking, but how many of us have actively developed our ability to think and reason critically?

What does it mean to think and reason critically?

Would you always accept what other people tell you is correct without question? Thinking critically is to pause, question, analyse, evaluate, and make a judgement about what you’ve heard, read or seen. It might be a bit over the top to stop and think critically about everything we do each day but when it’s something significant it’s important to know how to evaluate the information you’ve been given and form your own reasoned opinion.

Effective thinking and reasoning support and develop our ability to question the status quo, be creative and solve real-life problems.

Where do I find the time for critical thinking?

Having sufficient time to think (and think well!) can be difficult. At Ouch, we recognise this issue and use the Eisenhower Matrix as a means to help us. We designate tasks into one of four categories: urgent, important, not urgent, and not important. Having done this, we then work as a team to ensure that we have enough time to address the urgent and important tasks first. It’s not that we don’t around to completing the other responsibilities but recognising what is important and urgent enables us to devote the time to think and reason critically on more crucial tasks. Here are some tips to help you take control of your time:

  • Turn off your phone!
  • Log out of social media
  • Clear your workspace of clutter that isn’t relevant
  • Speak to your colleagues to ensure you and they have enough time and support to think and complete urgent and important tasks. It’s a team effort!
  • Try not to multitask all the time, aim for short sharp bursts of concentration
  • When you’re feeling tired, make sure you have a break
  • Tap into other people’s ideas – set up study groups and work through ideas and challenges together
  • When you get stuck or frustrated, make a change. Get up and go for a walk and break the pattern

Think Critically by Tom Chatfield (pg. 18-20)

It’s all about reasoning

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it” – Aristotle

Should we readily accept both our own and other people’s opinions without first evaluating the reasons behind those claims? Understanding the reasoning behind the claims allows us to appropriately consider their soundness, cogency and validity. This process enables us to develop a reasoned response or argument through critical thinking.

NB: In terms of critical thinking, an argument is an attempt to persuade someone through reasoning.

Why is critical thinking important?

Learning how and when to think critically is a fundamental and necessary skill for all decision-makers, with highly successful business leaders and renowned experts regularly highlighting the importance of these skills.

“Learn to use your brain power. Critical thinking is the key to creative problem-solving in business.” – Richard Branson

Critical thinking and reasoning have a wide range of benefits for our own personal development as well as in our work life. Amongst others, here are some of our favourite ones below:

  1. Critical thinking is universal – no matter what your profession, critical thinking skills can be applied and be beneficial to your success
  2. Enhances creativity – it gives you a wide range of ideas and allows you to analyse and select which option suits you best or is the most reliable
  3. Problem-solving skills – critical thinking is interwoven with problem-solving and helps to improve those skills
  4. Better decision-making – critical thinkers have the ability to deal with issues as they arise and make good choices
  5. Creates independence – when we think critically, we start to trust ourselves more. It encourages us to make our own decisions and form opinions
  6. Exercise for our minds – just like our muscles, we need to exercise our minds to keep them strong. Critical thinking encourages the development of various skills such as logical thinking and open-mindedness
  7. Collaborative approaches to critical thinking enables teams to explore and develop ideas in a just and fair manner. It’s all about the strength of the argument, rather than the status of the person who proposed it

Ouch offer Introduction to Critical Thinking and Reasoning as a 1-day course which includes:

  • Barriers to thinking and reasoning
  • The standard form of argumentation
  • Logical fallacies
  • Inductive, adductive, and deductive reasoning
  • Cognitive biases
  • Intellectual humility and how it impacts the quality of our decision
  • Introduction to our unique critical thinking tools and how to use them
  • Introduction to collaborative approaches to critical thinking and reasoning

This course involves a dialectic approach to developing critical thinking and reasoning skills and is delivered using various methods such as facilitator presentation, group discussion, individual and group thinking and reasoning exercises. This course can also be delivered in-house at your premises. If you would like to find out more, please visit our website www.ouchlandd.co.uk or download our course information sheet here. We look to seeing you soon.

If you used a critical thinking approach to decide whether you would benefit from using critical thinking and reasoning, your conclusion would be YES!

The Ouch team used a collaborative critical thinking and reasoning approach in the development of this blog.

Simon, Kim, Gemma, Andrea, and Max

The Ouch Team