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In today’s digital world, when their is flood of information, we are challenged to evaluate and make sense of what we see and read.  One of the most important life skills to meet this challenge is critical thinking skill. It is vital that people develop the ability to analyze the information they encounter online. It helps them to assess; whether they can trust the sources behind the content. Not only this, if you want to succeed in 21st Century business you need to become a critical thinker. Employers value critical thinking skills and hiring managers want to recruit critical thinkers . They feel critical thinkers are critical to their organization’s growth and success.

Critical thinking skills allows you to examine the information and classify what’s more valuable and what’s less. Let us begin with the definition of critical thinking and understand what critical thinking is all about.

What is critical thinking?

Numerous critical thinking definitions exist emphasizing reasonable, reflective, unbiased analysis and evaluation of information or evidences. Critical thinking is the ability to think in an organized and rational manner in order to understand connections between facts and ideas.

Critical thinking is not about being negative. It’s open-minded, deep and clear thinking; in which you do not take things for granted. You question, analyze and evaluate what you say, hear, read, or write. It’s about not to believe anything blindly and make judgments or decisions with structured analysis and interpretation of facts.

Critical thinking is more than just the accumulation of information, facts, knowledge and analyze them. It’s a way of approaching whatever is presently occupying your mind (thinking) so that you come to the best possible conclusion. In simple words Critical Thinking is “thinking about thinking”. You identify, analyze and then fix the flaw the way you think. You improve the quality of your thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking.

Importance of critical thinking

Critical Thinking can make a difference between success and failure in almost every area of your life. It’s key to success in your career and professional life. Almost every employer seeks critical thinkers to enhance the problem solving and decision-making competence of their organization.

Critical thinking skills also becomes of utmost importance in today’s information age. In the era of fake news, contrasting data, and so much information to process every day, critical thinking is the only way to make sense of the world. Critical thinking is crucial skill in business, start-ups , profession and also in life as well. It is quite significant and helps us attain the realms of success and growth in all facets of life.

It is becoming increasingly valuable because it:

  • encourages curiosity,

  • enhances creativity,

  • reinforces problem-solving ability

  • fosters independence.


Not only this, critical thinking promotes the development of following things:

Barriers to critical thinking

Some of the major barriers to critical thinking are:

  • Fixed mindset is the biggest barrier to critical thinking. One must have growth mindset to be a critical thinker. Critical thinking and growth mindset go hand in hand. Fixed mindset hinders the open-mind approach required to explore, learn and accept new knowledge and skills required to solve the problems.

  • Egocentric nature and thinking patterns make the person to think about himself/ herself. This barrier leads to the inability to sympathize with others to understand their problems and results.

  • Critical thinking is a complex skill that requires practice. Don’t expect to read everything and suddenly become a critical thinker – it will take time.

  • Group Thinking is also one of the harmful barriers to critical thinking. Group Thinkers does not have their own judgement or decision in any given situation or case. They seek help of another group members to formulate their thoughts, opinions, and ideas. Without them they are not able to move forward.

Apart from the above; lack of knowledge, arrogance, being not attentive, unwillingness to listen and engage, black and white thinking, negative thinking and poor cognitive skills are few other barriers.

Critical thinkers characteristics

The ability to think critically is most valued skills to have success and growth in life.  Critical thinkers extricate themselves from the crowd because they possess few characteristics that strengthen Critical Thinking. Are you one of those distinguished and out of the box personalities? Here are the top characteristics of a critical thinker to evaluate your critical thinking skill sets.


The basic and inherent quality of a critical thinkers is their curiosity.  True Critical Thinkers are constantly hungry for new ideas, learning and insights. Being inquisitive and asking constructive questions consistently in order to learn new things is one of their defining traits. They are curious about their surroundings and of the world. Their learning graph keep climbing. Curiosity brings in the desire to know more, hear more and think more.

Critical thinkers are extremely good analyzers

Analyzing information means to break information down to its component parts and evaluate how well those parts function together and separately. Critical thinkers are extremely good analyzers. They have special ability to analyze what is going on around them from different angles. They carefully examine everything, whether it is a problem, a situation, a set of data, or a text. This imbibes thinking in a clear, reasoned, logical, and reflective manner to make decisions or solve problems.

Critical thinkers have a growth mindset

As I mentioned earlier; growth mindset and critical thinking go hand in hand. People with growth mindset feel comfortable questioning information that does not make sense to them. Their learning journey is never ending. They believe in their ability to learn new skills sets and acquire knowledge required in today’s rapidly changing environment.

A growth mindset supports individuals to enhance their self-reflective capacity.  Such people reflect through evaluation. When people hold a growth mindset, they see learning new things as an exciting opportunity to grow.


Creativity is an essential characteristic of critical thinkers. They have special ability to create something new deviating from patterns. When examine and evaluate information, such people come up with a solution that no one else has thought before. All of this requires a creative eye that can take a different approach from all other approaches. Imagination and drawing connections help them to visualize something new. They think differently and make a difference.


Critical thinkers adapt and accept

Another powerful characteristic of critical thinkers is acceptance and adaption. Creative thinkers acknowledge that their beliefs and ideas might not always be the best, and that they cannot know everything. Therefore, they are open minded, they accept and adapt other persons ideas, opinion and suggestions. Here acceptance does not mean they passively accept whatever they hear or read. They rather accept after analysis, evaluation and weighing the pros and cons.

Critical thinkers are change agents

Critical thinkers are catalyst to change management. They consistently question the current practices in all facets of their lives with a great zeal. They actively look for ways to improve upon traditional approach and practices. Critical thinkers are flexible, ready to change, find new and more effective and creative ways of solving a particular problem. They are also honest to face their personal biases. They are flexible towards change. Critical thinkers show willingness to challenge the status-quo. They refuse to adhere to traditional methods; they don’t follow it simply because that’s the way it’s always been done.

Creativity has often been the fuel behind change. As I mentioned earlier, critical thinkers are good at creativity. They act at change agents in any organization.


Critical thinker have special ability to look at things and problems in unbiased way. Bias and pre-formed opinions affects critical thinking negatively. When problems, people and situations are seen in an unbiased light, you are in position to analyze them a much better way. Your decision making skills improve and you provide a better solution to any problem that you face.

Top 8 critical thinking skills

Like most soft skills, critical thinking isn’t something you can take a class to learn. Rather, this skill consists of a variety of interpersonal and analytical skills. Developing critical thinking is more about learning to embrace open-mindedness and bringing analytical thinking to your problem framing process. 

In no particular order, the eight most important critical thinking skills are:

  1. Analytical thinking: Part of critical thinking is evaluating data from multiple sources in order to come to the best conclusions. Analytical thinking allows people to reject bias and strive to gather and consume information to come to the best conclusion. 

  2. Open-mindedness: This critical thinking skill helps you analyze and process information to come to an unbiased conclusion. Part of the critical thinking process is letting your personal biases go and coming to a conclusion based on all of the information. 

  3. Problem solving: Because critical thinking emphasizes coming to the best conclusion based on all of the available information, it’s a key part of problem solving. When used correctly, critical thinking helps you solve any problem—from a workplace challenge to difficulties in everyday life. 

  4. Self-regulation: Self-regulation refers to the ability to regulate your thoughts and set aside any personal biases to come to the best conclusion. In order to be an effective critical thinker, you need to question the information you have and the decisions you favor—only then can you come to the best conclusion. 

  5. Observation: Observation skills help critical thinkers look for things beyond face value. To be a critical thinker you need to embrace multiple points of view, and you can use observation skills to identify potential problems.

  6. Interpretation: Not all data is made equal—and critical thinkers know this. In addition to gathering information, it’s important to evaluate which information is important and relevant to your situation. That way, you can draw the best conclusions from the data you’ve collected. 

  7. Evaluation: When you attempt to answer a hard question, there is rarely an obvious answer. Even though critical thinking emphasizes putting your biases aside, you need to be able to confidently make a decision based on the data you have available. 

  8. Communication: Once a decision has been made, you also need to share this decision with other stakeholders. Effective workplace communication includes presenting evidence and supporting your conclusion—especially if there are a variety of different possible solutions. 

7 steps to critical thinking

Critical thinking is a skill that you can build by following these seven steps. The seven steps to critical thinking help you ensure you’re approaching a problem from the right angle, considering every alternative, and coming to an unbiased conclusion.


1. Identify the problem

Before you put those critical thinking skills to work, you first need to identify the problem you’re solving. This step includes taking a look at the problem from a few different perspectives and asking questions like: 

  • What’s happening? 

  • Why is this happening? 

  • What assumptions am I making? 

  • At first glance, how do I think we can solve this problem? 

A big part of developing your critical thinking skills is learning how to come to unbiased conclusions. In order to do that, you first need to acknowledge the biases that you currently have. Does someone on your team think they know the answer? Are you making assumptions that aren’t necessarily true? Identifying these details helps you later on in the process. 

2. Research

At this point, you likely have a general idea of the problem—but in order to come up with the best solution, you need to dig deeper. 

During the research process, collect information relating to the problem, including data, statistics, historical project information, team input, and more. Make sure you gather information from a variety of sources, especially if those sources go against your personal ideas about what the problem is or how to solve it.

Gathering varied information is essential for your ability to apply the critical thinking process. If you don’t get enough information, your ability to make a final decision will be skewed. Remember that critical thinking is about helping you identify the objective best conclusion. You aren’t going with your gut—you’re doing research to find the best option

3. Determine data relevance

Just as it’s important to gather a variety of information, it is also important to determine how relevant the different information sources are. After all, just because there is data doesn’t mean it’s relevant. 

Once you’ve gathered all of the information, sift through the noise and identify what information is relevant and what information isn’t. Synthesizing all of this information and establishing significance helps you weigh different data sources and come to the best conclusion later on in the critical thinking process. 

To determine data relevance, ask yourself:

  • How reliable is this information? 

  • How significant is this information? 

  • Is this information outdated? Is it specialized in a specific field? 

4. Ask questions

One of the most useful parts of the critical thinking process is coming to a decision without bias. In order to do so, you need to take a step back from the process and challenge the assumptions you’re making. 

We all have bias—and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Unconscious biases (also known as cognitive biases) often serve as mental shortcuts to simplify problem solving and aid decision making. But even when biases aren’t inherently bad, you must be aware of your biases in order to put them aside when necessary. 

Before coming to a solution, ask yourself:

  • Am I making any assumptions about this information? 

  • Are there additional variables I haven’t considered? 

  • Have I evaluated the information from every perspective? 

  • Are there any viewpoints I missed? 

5. Identify the best solution

Finally, you’re ready to come to a conclusion. To identify the best solution, draw connections between causes and effects. Use the facts you’ve gathered to evaluate the most objective conclusion. 

Keep in mind that there may be more than one solution. Often, the problems you’re facing are complex and intricate. The critical thinking process doesn’t necessarily lead to a cut-and-dry solution—instead, the process helps you understand the different variables at play so you can make an informed decision. 

6. Present your solution

Communication is a key skill for critical thinkers. It isn’t enough to think for yourself—you also need to share your conclusion with other project stakeholders. If there are multiple solutions, present them all. There may be a case where you implement one solution, then test to see if it works before implementing another solution. 

7. Analyze your decision

The seven-step critical thinking process yields a result—and you then need to put that solution into place. After you’ve implemented your decision, evaluate whether or not it was effective. Did it solve the initial problem? What lessons—whether positive or negative—can you learn from this experience to improve your critical thinking for next time? 

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