Primary Blog/Personal Development & Self Mastery/How to Improve Critical Thinking in the Workplace

How to Improve Critical Thinking in the Workplace

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Critical thinking skills become increasingly more important as you approach higher levels of seniority or leadership in your career path. One of the keys to your performance will be to have excellent and meaningful conversations with senior leadership. As an executive coach, a question I receive most often is, how do you develop critical thinking?

What is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is both a disciplined process and a way of reasoning.

When we think of critical thinking as a disciplined process, we think of it as a process, not a destination. In every situation, conversation, collaboration, or transaction that you are a part of, this is your ability to go through a process with discipline and focus.

The other aspect of critical thinking as a way of reasoning speaks to the methodology that the center of your brain uses. This center is the rational center, the executive function of your brain that operates opposite the emotional side. It is used when you are making decisions or having judgements or presumptions based on executive function rather than on your emotional responses.

Concepts of Critical Thinking

When you are practicing critical thinking, what you are essentially doing is analyzing, conceptualizing and synthesizing new information. As a result, you may produce new knowledge; but more importantly, it means that you are putting perspective on the information you are getting outside of your own brain.

Concept #1: Wisdom of the Ages

It is important to practice continuous learning so that you can keep growing and refining the way you think. As a lifelong learner within your field, it requires that you constantly be developing your knowledge in certain areas while obtaining breadth of knowledge in other areas, or increasing your knowledge so that it has more meaning.

The principle here is to focus on wisdom rather than what is popular. Think of knowledge like a tree - it has branches, leaves, a trunk, and is ultimately grounded in its roots.

The stronger the roots, the stronger the tree. There are a ton of resources that you can tap into, and while some may be popular, not all contain wisdom. They may be too general, too fluffy, or largely unhelpful when it is overly tactical.

Instead, seek out knowledge from original thinkers, as they have spent time deepening their insights and synthesizing their knowledge. Their work, sometimes centuries old, have stood the test of time, and have influenced individuals in the modern world. These modern thinkers have spent years solidifying this knowledge tree by learning from the originals.

Concept #2: Conceptual Frameworks

Your brain continuously tries to understand the world around you and make sense of the things you observe and experience. To do this, your brain automatically creates conceptual frameworks.

You have frameworks for everything; for example, you have conceptual frameworks about politics, relationships, your industry, every subject you studied during your education. Your frameworks are the result of your best thinking. Every decision you have made in your life, whether in your career path or other areas of your life, you did your best at making that decision. You used your own perspectives, personal philosophies, and belief systems, which constituted your best thinking.

Some frameworks, however, may not be grounded in truth. Our perspectives and observations may be skewed. But with critical thinking, we can update our conceptual frameworks by focusing on the wisdom of the ages.

When it comes to reading and education, we have been programmed since a young age to read for the purpose of memorizing something or searching within it for flaws to critique with the intent of deciding what’s right or wrong. While this helps us pass exams, this way of thinking maintains our confirmation bias as we are constantly picking out things that we think are right. The problem with this modality of operations is that it is by default limiting how much you can get out of a particular piece of writing; which in turn causes you to dismiss things or miss out on profound wisdom.

The purpose of reading, rather than memorization, is to master the text and formulate new perspectives. We should be approaching reading activities with a goal to withdraw information with an open mind and find the things that will improve and update our existing conceptual frameworks.

Concept #3: Reflective Awareness

Reflective awareness is the state of mind of your authentic self. It’s the brain’s higher order conscious awareness of your values, characteristics, traits and behaviors. Although we seek greater control in our lives, there are only two things you can truly control: the actions you take and the perspectives you choose to develop.

Reflective awareness involves moving closer to your true authentic self. It is where you realize who you are and that you have nothing to prove, while becoming aware of your values, characteristics, traits, and behaviors.

This is especially useful when working along senior leaders within your company who have been there for a while and have a lot of admirable achievements. Oftentimes, we see another person and feel intimidated by what they have that we don’t have, such as intelligence, great communication abilities, a level of authority, or success. Often we inauthentically experience impostor syndrome in the presence of these individuals as we try to exude confidence and add value to the conversation.

The moment you have pure reflective awareness, you will be able to respect them as equal, instead of somebody who is above you. It is what allows you to maximize your potential and pursue meaningful challenges that inspire you.

Now it is time to move away from the knowledge-gathering stage and move on to the application. If you’d love to learn how to put the principles covered in this blog into action, join me in my executive coaching program where I’ll introduce you to a powerful self- and career-development process.

This is an implementation-to-results program for growth-oriented executives who seek greater career fulfillment through becoming a more skilled version of themselves. It is designed to help you master your mind, develop deeper insights, elevate your communication skills, and become inspired in your career growth.

If you’d love to find out how my methodology can help you with your career goals, apply HEREfor an opportunity to work with me.

 © Mastery Insights Inc.  All Rights Reserved

© Mastery Insights Inc. All Rights Reserved