Most of our day-to-day lives are lived in the present without much thought. This type of automatic thinking does not help us when we need to make decisions, especially in the workplace. To make the best decisions in the workplace and improve our professional development, we need to deploy critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking is about analyzing information to make the best decision possible. It’s about reaching a conclusion that your brain wouldn’t think of automatically, such as breathing, brushing your teeth, etc. We’ll discuss five strategies to improve your critical thinking skills in the following sections.

Develop Self-AwarenessTeam members crowding around a laptop thinking critically

The first step to improving critical thinking skills is to practice self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to look inwards at our thoughts and behaviors to understand ourselves better. How does this help our critical thinking, I hear you ask?

We better understand how we react to certain situations by clearly seeing our thought processes. We can then discover what we like and dislike, any potential biases we have, and any strengths and weaknesses that may impact our decision-making skills.

Critical thinking starts from within, so analyzing ourselves is the first step in improving our professional development.

Question Everyone

When coworkers communicate, they can often accidentally leave out vital information needed to make an informed decision. It’s our job to confirm exactly what they meant and question anything that doesn’t add up.

Remember that everyone working on professional development has their own opinions, biases, and motives, so make sure to actively listen and digest the information they’re giving you. Understand where they might be coming from to try and discover any information that might need further clarification.

Think about conversations you have had in the past and consider how their biases or motives might have affected the information they told you.

Question Yourself

Everyone has their own opinions, biases, and motives, including you. They can dramatically affect how you make a decision, especially when other people are involved. In any critical thinking scenario, it’s vital that you leave your opinions and biases at the door to make a sound decision.

Don’t let your flaws affect the information that you absorb. Are you allowing yourself to make a poor decision because you didn’t listen to someone you don’t like in the workplace? Thinking clearly without judgment is essential for professional development and drastically improves your job progression.

Analyze YourselfWoman working from home thinking critically at her laptop

Analyzing yourself will allow you to shine a light on how you think and the patterns that affect your decision-making. Take a good look at the way you currently do things. Is there a better way to complete a task you haven’t thought about yet? Remember that just because you’ve done something for a long time doesn’t automatically mean it’s the right way.

Be open to asking others for their input, and you might be surprised at what you discover.

Anticipate Others Feelings

Before making a decision in the workplace, think about how it will affect your coworkers. Developing this foresight will significantly help your professional development. Being caring towards your coworkers will also help you in the long run as your colleagues will feel more comfortable with you and will therefore be more likely to help you in the future.

More Professional Development Tips from VOC

As you can hopefully now see, critical thinking skills are a multi-faceted tool that you can use to improve your professional development drastically. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel you are not getting it right straight away; thinking critically takes time, and there is always more to learn.

For more information and advice on critical thinking skills, better managing your mental health, remote working tips, and other additional information, visit VOC Associates! We have compiled a collection of resources and other information to help you survive working remotely!

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