If you’re looking to work on your personal self-development, one of the easiest ways to do so is by improving your critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is the ability to analyse information objectively and make a reasoned judgement, and having solid critical thinking skills makes you sharper, smarter, and capable of making the best possible decision in any given circumstance.

In this guide, we’re going to go over 9 different methods you can use to improve your critical thinking skills, so you can make better decisions, enhance your judgements, and better make sense of the world around you. Let’s take a look!

9 ways to improve your critical thinking skills

Understanding critical thinking

Before you’re able to enhance and improve your critical thinking skills, it’s important to understand what critical thinking actually is. To be an effective critical thinker, you need to be able to recognise bias, evaluate evidence from a logical point of view, form new perspectives without the need for external approval, and also be able to analyse information from a number of different sources (of varying reliability.) If you take the time to understand these core principles, it’s going to be much easier for you to develop your critical thinking skills efficiently.

Ask questions

There’s no such thing as a stupid question, right? If you’re looking to improve your critical thinking skills, it’s absolutely essential that you abandon your fear of asking questions – especially when it comes to big decisions or subjects that you don’t quite fully understand. Asking questions allows you to interrogate ideas and topics more deeply, while also permitting you to develop a keen sense of confidence. You’re also going to be able to make a better decision if you have all the information you need at hand, so asking questions is a must for any aspiring critical thinker.

Check your own biases

Nobody is free of personal bias – it’s an integral part of being a flawed human. But just because personal bias is innate, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to interrogate your own. By interrogating your own biases and assumptions, you’ll be able to improve your critical thinking skills and make more objective decisions. It’s also a good idea to reflect on where your own personal biases come from; are they based on personal opinions, experiences, or your education? By interrogating your biases, you’ll widen your perspective and think more critically.

Practise active listening

Active listening is a must-have for any aspiring leader, and can also help you think more critically. Whether it be in the workplace or in your personal life, active listening means listening with intent when your peers or colleagues come to you for advice or help. You’re not just there to listen, but to actively find solutions to problems by showing attentiveness and truly understanding a problem – even if it isn’t something that corresponds to your own personal experience.

Consume media critically

With the democratisation of free thought over the internet, it’s more important than ever to consume media and information consciously. As you probably already know, anyone can set up a social media platform and tout solutions, problems, or philosophies without the need for external approval. For this reason, it’s vital to consume all media critically, whether it’s mainstream news sites or social media posts.

Break the mould

The mark of a true critical thinker is someone who is able to think outside the box when looking for solutions. If you want to become a thought leader, remind yourself that you don’t always need to follow the prescribed framework when it comes to solving problems or creating solutions. By thinking outside the box, you’ll expand your critical thinking skills and develop a new perspective – and you might just solve a previously unsolvable problem while you’re at it.

Question your thought process

Another easy way to improve your critical thinking skills is to reflect on your own personal thought process. When you interrogate your own strategies, you might find that you rely too heavily on certain methods, or lack the confidence to break the mould and think outside the box. By examining your own thought process, you’ll improve your critical thinking skills while also identifying areas for improvement in your overall ability to solve problems.

Don’t jump into decisions

Whether it’s a mortgage or a new job, it’s important to take time to reflect during your decision-making process – even for the small things. A period of reflection will allow you the time and space to process the decision and its implications fully – jumping into a decision can leave you with problems or buyer’s guilt – literally or metaphorically.

Don’t be afraid of debate

When it comes to critical thinking, it’s important to be unafraid of differing viewpoints. Hearing alternative philosophies and ideas isn’t going to undermine your own; in fact, you may find that being exposed to alternate viewpoints helps to reinforce – or improve – your own. Don’t shy away from debate – use it tactically to enhance and solidify your own views and beliefs.

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