Critical thinking


By Semyon Kolosov 6 min read

Recently, critical thinking has become negative. The authors and preachers of positive thinking have contributed to this. I’m not against optimism. I’m talking about all these “believe in yourself, get out of your comfort zone, take risks, and victories will come” without backed up experience and taking into account the context of time and the person’s situation. Most of those who have achieved success do not know how to repeat it. If someone could, and succeeded — it does not mean that, repeating after them, you will be able to do the same.

People on both sides rarely understand this. As a result, people do not work well with risk planning and analysis or do not work at all. I have seen many stories when people with pink glasses made changes in their lives, and then could not cope with the problems. They were left without work, returned after an unsuccessful move and lost money. Most did not understand what was going on and found the culprits around them. There are also good examples. At the beginning of our acquaintance, my friend Lekha always took risks easily. It’s like he’s got pink binoculars with meter lenses in front of his eyes. One day he borrowed money to buy a car. Before the start of the working day, he started working in taxi to pay off the debt.

Then he immediately applied for a mortgage when he didn’t have a down payment and didn’t even have an idea where to find it. When discussing his plans, he presented his dreams to be his plan, and I was skeptical that it was possible to do that. As a result, everything worked out both with the apartment and the car. The preachers of successful success will say that here is a real example. He got out of my comfort zone, achieved what he wanted, and was not looking for excuses.

From the outside, everything looks really like this, but no one has seen his constant stress, shadows under his eyes, problems with competitors in taxis, constant re-borrowing money and working hard. Strong-willed qualities and soft skills helped him. He did not give up, negotiated, endured stress and physical trials. It cannot be said that the risks were critical, but not everyone can withstand this and walk along the edge. Also, do not forget about the survivor’s mistake. There are no bad reviews about climbing equipment on Aliexpress.

Ask Lekha — would he like to repeat his experience? He will definitely refuse. The rake hit him on the forehead so many times that his critical thinking was activated. He still has ambitious goals, but plans them completely differently and without pink glasses. After all, he now understands that the tests could have been avoided in order to get the same result. It was necessary to think critically at once, set priorities, plan work with risks and take them into account in terms of tasks.

We can say that critical thinking includes logical thinking, since conclusions are based on logic. Thinking critically does not mean criticizing everything around you, doubting every little thing or being a pessimist. This is the ability to adequately assess reality. Analyze and verify information, look at the situation from different angles, form your own opinion, objectively look at your own and others’ judgments, as well as ask the right questions.

The task of critical thinking is to improve the quality of thinking and protect a person from false information or manipulation. People with critical thinking do not act in a certain way, because an authoritative person said so, they have always done so, or it is always done like that. They always question the information received, someone else’s point of view and conclusions. Not to argue, but to get to the truth. People’s lack of critical thinking helps politicians to implement their plans at the elections, make people face foreheads and hide their unprofessionalism. Corporations successfully sell people things and services that they don’t need on unfavorable terms. Scammers manipulate people, the media create propaganda, and so on.

“Having pink glasses and pulling someone’s leg are the most popular products today”

Dmitry Semenikhin

Information analysis, a broad outlook, the ability to ask questions, constructive criticism, scenario planning and experience accumulation will help to develop critical thinking. I have always thought very critically, but not always effectively. I was too focused on designing negative scenarios for the development of events. Sometimes I came up with so many barriers that I gave up way before even trying to do something. When

I learned how to analyze information and work with the probability of risks, it became easier. Working as a manager helped me develop critical thinking. After shooting yourself in the foot and making the right conclusions, you accumulate experience, which forms a base of options for the development of events and possible risks. The further away, the easier it is. There is a contradiction here. You need to keep falling into a trap to have more experience, but at the same time it is better not to fall in it. Critical thinking allows you not to fall in the same trap and collect only valuable traps. It is necessary to develop and test critical thinking at the same time.

Start practicing the following techniques.

1. Analyze and verify information.

Compare information from at least three sources from different information fields, be sure to look for primary sources. Highlight theses, arguments and proofs. Find cause-and-effect relationships and errors in logic. Doubt, check the facts and ask questions that help to consider the situation from different sides. Usually the questions are: “What?”, “Where?”, “When?”, “How?”, “Why?”, “What is the alternative?”, “Why am I sure?”, “How to make sure?” and so on. red_mad_robot often uses constructive criticism with test questions. For example, the project team will use the challenge questions to make their own decision on correctness, effectiveness and possible risks.

2. Analyze other points of view.

Do not accept another point of view because you don’t like it — that is not critical thinking. If a person is not an obvious tyrant or inadequate, then he came to his point of view with certain conclusions. Always try to understand the essence of someone else’s point of view and understand the train of thought. So, you can look at the solution or situation from a different angle. I have often seen new managers who do not want to present a solution to people with critical thinking. They will ask uncomfortable questions and criticize. But for me, constructive criticism is the most useful thing I can get from people. I can find weaknesses in my solution faster, notice things I haven’t thought about, or find new solutions. Appreciate constructive criticism and learn to deliver it.

3. Analyze mistakes and broaden your horizons.

Accumulate experience and knowledge from different fields. Any mistake is an investment in the next approach. Pay attention to mistakes in critical thinking. After the failures, analyze what questions you didn’t ask or what you missed. Notice how to avoid mistakes next time, and what tools can help. A broad outlook will allow you to gain knowledge from other areas, look at other people’s mistakes and project more options for the development of events and risks.

4. Think consciously.

The environment provokes us to make quick and emotional decisions. Never skip the critical thinking stage in making important decisions. Be sure to take time to consciously and critically think, visualize connections and back up judgments with logic. If you feel that it is not working, postpone the process if possible.

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