Many successful careers are forged on good relationships and curiosity opens us to learning as well as building human connections. Curiosity is the secret to a bigger life. The more curious we are, the greater our exposure to different ideas, the more opportunities we have to exercise our critical thinking.
Critical thinking involves determining the meaning and significance of what is observed or expressed, or, concerning a given inference or argument, determining whether there is adequate justification to accept the conclusion as true.
This means the:
“skilled, active, interpretation and evaluation of observations, communications, information, and argumentation,”
or if you prefer:
“the careful, deliberate determination of whether one should accept, reject, or suspend judgment about a claim and the degree of confidence with which one accepts or rejects it.”
We also exercise our critical thinking when we take the time to examine problems and raise important questions in business.
Five characteristics of a critical thinker
A journalist taught me about critical thinking in writing and editing. The importance of vetting and uncovering more than one side to a story.
The five characteristics below can help us determine the extent of our familiarity with the use of critical thinking in our work and life (adapted from the Wikipedia entry):
1/ raising important questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
2/ gathering and assessing relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively;
3/ coming to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
4/ thinking with an open-mind within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
5/ communicating effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems; without being unduly influenced by the thinking of others on the topic.
These abilities are critical in business — and extremely useful in life. When we are able to suspend judgment long enough to negotiate meaning in a conversation, for example, our relationships benefit in the long term.
Another good use of critical thinking is to counter our tendency to see what we expect to see. Which is why good disagreement is central to progress. Culture drives what we want to see. As individuals and businesses, we have the ability to expand our options.
Two effects of the over reliance on technology to interact.
1.) We think it's an extension of all our humanity but it's a regression of the part of us that communicates. This means we need to work harder to compensate by injecting critical thinking in our listening. Why listening is hard and how to think critically.
2.) Especially in social platforms, our interactions become limited to a small group of people with whom we likely agree. This means that the only way to create a ripple effect and stand out is either by feeding the insecurity monster and forgo respect and civility, or borrowing too readily the idea of another. We underestimate the value of ecosystems and the role of co-creation in our growth.
An inquisitive mind can keep us from falling into unproductive behaviors.