Critical Thinking In The Workplace | Katie Hall | Skillshare

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Critical Thinking In The Workplace

teacher avatar Katie Hall, Talent Zoom Training

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (39m)
    • 1. Introduction To The Course

    • 2. Critical Thinking & Benefits

    • 3. Left, Right and Whole Brain Thinking

    • 4. The Critical Thinking Process

    • 5. Identifying Arguments

    • 6. Checking Credibility and Consistency

    • 7. A Critical Thinker’s Skill Set

    • 8. Active Listening

    • 9. Steps to Building an Explanation

    • 10. Common Sense

    • 11. Critical and Creative Thought Systems

    • 12. Conclusion

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About This Class

Critical thinking is very important in the workplace.

Why? Being able to think well and solve problems systematically is an asset for any career.

  • "Critical thinking is the key to creative problem solving in business."

    Richard Branson, CEO and Founder, Virgin Group

  • "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."


  • "If you want to succeed in 21st-century business you need to become a critical thinker"

    Barak Obama

What is it? Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas. By improving the quality of your thoughts and your decisions, better critical thinking skills can bring about a big positive change in your life.

Someone with critical thinking skills can:

  • Understand the links between ideas.

  • Determine the importance and relevance of arguments and ideas.

  • Recognise, build and appraise arguments.

  • Identify inconsistencies and errors in reasoning.

  • Approach problems in a consistent and systematic way.

  • Reflect on the justification of their own assumptions, beliefs and values.

Why wait? Enroll in this course today and learn to become a critical thinker. I wish you a happy learning!

Meet Your Teacher

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Katie Hall

Talent Zoom Training


Katie Hall, representative of Talent Zoom. TZ helps companies identify their workplace talents.

@ Talent Zoom we believe that every employee is talented, they only need a quality training in order to achieve their best potential.

With our courses your team's productivity and confidence will increase which in turn will help your organisation to achieve the optimal results.

See full profile

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1. Introduction To The Course: Hello and welcome to the critical thinking course. Thank you so much for joining us today. My name is Katie, and I am glad to present this course on behalf. Our team at talent zoom. As we all know in today's society, all of us experience information overload. We are bombarded with messages to believe various ideas, purchase things, support causes and lead our lifestyle in a particular way. How do you know what to believe in this overload? How do you separate the truth from the mitts? The answer lies in critical thinking skills. The ability to clearly reason through problems and to present arguments in a logical, compelling way has become a key survival in today's world. So this course will give you some practical tools and hands on experience with critical thinking and problem solving. By the end of this course, you will be able to be fine, critical and non critical thinking. Identify your critical thinking styles, including areas of strength and improvement. Describe other thinking styles, including left or right brain thinking and hold breed thinking, work through the critical thinking process to build or analyze arguments, develop and evaluate explanations, improve key critical thinking skills, including active listening and questioning use analytical thought systems and created thinking techniques. Prepare and present powerful arguments. So shall we get started? Let's dive right in and I wish you a happy learning. 2. Critical Thinking & Benefits: So what is critical thinking? According to the 21st century lexicon, critical thinking is the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing applying , analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion. In other words, it's about using a specific set of systems and tools to look at a problem, find several alternatives and choose the best one. In order to understand critical thinking, let's compare it to non critical thinking. Let's look at a simple example. You're working on a project with a team of co workers. You are at lunch one day when one of them comes up to you in a complete panic and says, I've heard that the CEO isn't happy about our approach. If we don't change course, will all be fired soon. A non critical thinker might accept this statement as face value and react. A critical maker would look at the different parts of their coworkers statement and evaluated objectively, considering both the statements, correctness and relevance. One of the key ideas being critical thinking is logic. If your argument is logical, a reasonable person should be able to follow your line of thinking and reach the same conclusion or at least see how you got there. For example, suppose that I give you these two statements. All fruit is good for you. Apples are fruit. What conclusion would you come to now? Let's consider some benefits of critical thinking. A well cultivated critical thinker raises vital questions and problems formulating them clearly and precisely gathers and assesses relevant information. Using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively comes to well reasoned conclusions and solutions. Testing them against relevant criteria and standards. Thinks open mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing their assumptions, implications and practical consequences and communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems. Critical thinking is in short, self directed, self disciplined, self monitored and self corrective thinking. It Presupposes ascent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use . It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native ego centrism and socio centrism. By the way, when talking about critical thinking, we're going to use some special terms. So please look at this slide 3. Left, Right and Whole Brain Thinking: today. Let's consider left and right brain thinking as well as whole brain thinking. The concept of different characteristics for the left and right brain was explored and explained by scientists Roger Spirit. His theory can be summed up in his own words. The great pleasure and feeling in my right brain is more than my left brain can find the words to tell you. So think of it this way. With only the left side of your brain, you would be able to read the word snow, but you wouldn't be able to picture it. Next. Is whole brain thinking. Have you ever asked yourself, How can people be so clever and so dumb? At the same time, we have all met people who are very bright and capable in a given area or skill, but seem totally incapable of something much simpler. The absent minded genius is a good example. Scientific theory is no problem for this thinker, but socializing at a party is in business. You often find a strategic big picture specialist who never seems to notice details. How does this happen? Research on the brain has led to an understanding that each of us has a preferred way and mode of thinking that affects the way we take in and process information. The awareness of one's own thinking preferences and the thinking preferences of others, combined with the ability to act outside of one's preferred thinking preference is known as whole brain thinking. The whole brain model was developed by Ned Herman in 1979. It outlines four thinking styles. Please have a look at this style. As you can see, there are four quadrants that illustrate the thinking preferences of individuals. Thinking preferences have an impact on virtually everything we do, including communication decision making, problem solving and managing styles. Understanding or thinking style preferences will give you a new perspective of yourself and people you deal with every day. We can use this model as kind of a checklist to ensure we're covering all the bases and thinking critically. Applying whole brain thinking means being able to fully leverage one's own preferences, stretch to other quadrants when necessary, and adapt to and take advantage off the preferences of those around you to improve performance and results. 4. The Critical Thinking Process: the critical thinking process. Hello and welcome back. Today, I would like to introduce you the critical thinking model. It is a typical problem solving model that has three phases. Please have a look at this slide, and here is another critical thinking model that has the same basic structure but focuses on the 1st 2 phases. Please have a look at this slide. According to the Foundation for Critical Thinking, there are seven standards that critical thinkers should have in their mind set. These are number one is clarity here. Asked for illustrations and examples. Get hard facts. Ask the person to elaborate or express the idea in another way. Number two. Relevance and significance. How does that statement connect to the issue? What are the most important parts of the issue? Argument or evidence? Number three is logic. Apply common sense. Connect the dots between the points, win points, clash with each other, then accuracy. Look for supporting evidence. Check and double check the facts. Get firsthand information whenever possible. Depth. Make sure you are not over simplifying the problem. Are you covering all the issues? Are you covering the most significant issues? Next is precision. Ask for precise measurements, such as 63% rather than over half the population. Watch out for vague words. Breath. Are you looking at all the points of view? How could you gain more perspective? Look at it through someone else's eyes. For example, Your Children, your manager, etcetera. Keep these principles in mind as we work through the critical thinking model. American inventor Charles Kettering once said a problem well stated is a problem half solved. Therefore, you need to know what issue you need to evaluate before you start evaluating it. So the first step in the critical thinking process is to ask yourself, what is the rial issue? This can be more complicated than it seems, but it is important to get it right. Remember, an issue can be a problem, a situation, a question or just about anything else. Here are some tips for identifying the issue Try writing it as a question that can be answered yes or no. Be neutral and objective. Review the issue statement with others involved to make sure that you have gotten to the core of the problem. If there are one or more issues, separate them out so that you can focus on one thing at a time. Let's look at an example. A coworker says Joe, quit last week because of the changes in how we scheduled vacation. I guess we need to overhaul the system. You could state the issue as should we evaluate our vacation scheduling system. Now it's your turn. One of your employees privately says to you, our teams workspace is really disruptive and disorganized, and it's affecting my productivity. I want it rearranged right away and now decide what is the issue. 5. Identifying Arguments: Our next task is to identify the arguments for and against an issue and to identify the evidence supporting each argument. Ask yourself, Why would a person take that position? If a conclusion has already been reached, we will want to identify that as well. Let's continue with our earlier example. A coworker says Joe quit last week because of the changes in how we scheduled vacation. I guess we need to overhaul the system. The issue was, Should we evaluate our vacation scheduling time? One argument is yes. We should evaluate the current vacation scheduling system. Evidence for this could include facts like the number of complaints about the system from scheduling staff. On the no side, you could have evidence about the faces of change and point out that no one has had time to get comfortable with the system yet. Try identifying possible arguments and evidence for this situation. One of your employees privately says to you, our systems workplace is really disruptive and disorganized, and it's affecting my productivity. I want it rearranged right away. Issue is the current workspace configuration affecting team productivity. Now look at the issue arguments and evidence when we have a good grasp on the argument, evidence and conclusions. Let's look at the environmental factors around them. First, let's explore the context of the argument. Questions he will want to ask include. What are the presenters purpose? Does the presenter have a personal agenda? Does the presenter have a relationship with you that they are trying to change? Are they trying to get rid of a problem? How was the message conveyed? Were others meant to hear it? Were they trying to distance themselves from the message? For example, sending an email rather than speaking to you face to face? Whose turf was the message delivered on? What other factors are present persons status in the company? Recent changes at home or work, etcetera? Let's continue with our earlier example. A coworker says Joe quit last week because of the changes in how we scheduled vacation. I guess we need to overhaul the system. What contextual elements would affect this argument? If you're having trouble identifying the context of a message, try imagining it coming from someone else or through a different medium 6. Checking Credibility and Consistency: checking credibility and consistency credibility. The next thing that you must evaluate is the argument and evidence is credibility. In other words, can you believe this person or not? Some things that you will want to find out our How did the person find out the information firsthand, secondhand or beyond? What kind of background does the person have about the subject? How likely is there evidence? Is there other evidence, such as documents or witnesses? Does your background and observations support their statement? Continuing with the example of Joe, you'd probably feel differently about your coworkers statement, depending on whether the co worker had spoken to Joe themselves or overheard someone else talking about it in the lunchroom. Next is consistency. Finally, look through the argument for consistency. This is particularly important for formal reports, long emails or complex documents. You want to look for statements that contradict each other or that are true but not relevant for exercise. Please have a look at this case study. Find out conflicting statements in the following argument topic changing cafeteria offerings. I believe that we should change our cafeterias caterer from mixed bud to fresh go. Although 90% of our workers are generally healthy and in a good weight range. I feel that fresh go offers healthier options. I feel that a healthier workforce will increase productivity and morale. Fresh Co. Has been in operation since 1979 and offers dozens of different types of sandwiches and salads. They have helped over 50 other companies and could certainly help the 25% of our workforce that is overweight. Fresh co. Is also cheaper, and meals can be made faster at the end, evaluating arguments. Finally, we have gathered enough information to evaluate the argument and decide on its strength. The five key questions you will need to ask our Is the evidence straight forward and precise? How does the context effect the argument? Are all pieces of evidence consistent with each other? Is the evidence credible? Do all pieces of the evidence support the conclusion? Now it's your turn. Please have a look at this slide and complete this critical thinking worksheet. 7. A Critical Thinker’s Skill Set: a critical thinkers skill set. The two most basic elements of good communication are asking questions and listening to others. Our first topic will be asking good questions. There are two kinds of questions. Open and closed. Closed questions are those that can be answered by either yes or no or with a specific bit of data, such as your name, date of birth or occupation. These questions restrict our responses and give us little opportunity to develop our thoughts. As a result, they require little effort and can even close down a conversation. This type of question tends to get overused partially because they require very little effort on the questioners part as well. They are easy to phrase, and we get quick answers. Unfortunately, such questions also can lead us to assume, and assumptions can be big barriers to critical thinking. Open questions, on the other hand, encourage people to talk. These questions are phrased so they cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Open questions often begin with a variation of the five W's who, what, when, where, why or can ask how these questions are used to get information, focus conversations, solicit opinions, gain consensus. So closed questions begin the closing process. But the unintentional use of a closed question can often be overcome by the simple expedient of following it with a simple open question. For example, do you feel that was the right thing to do? Yes, I do. Can you help me understand why you feel that way? There are several different types of open ended questions. The most useful are probing questions that search for more information and investigate in more detail. Your role is to draw out information that will give you a better picture of the situation. Most of us are better at presenting our own point of view than we are at drawing out information from others. A good name for this skill of gathering information from others is probing. When you probe, you get others involved and participating. Since probes are designed to produce a response, it's unlikely the other person will remain passive, get important information on the table. People may not volunteer information or the information they present may not be clear. Your probes will help people open up and present or clarify their information forced herself to listen. Since probes are most effective in a sequence you have to listen to a person's response. Help improve communication on both sides of the table. Keep in mind there are five ways to probe other people. One of the most common ways of probing is to ask an open question, such as, Can you describe that more clearly? Would you give me a specific example of what you mean? What do you think we should do? The difficulty here is that if you ask too many of these, the other person begins to feel like they are under interrogation. A second, very effective way of probing is a pause. Stop talking. Let the other person speak. Let them fill the silence. 1/3 way is to ask a reflective or mirroring question. For example. The person has just said what I really want is more variety in my work, and you may respond by just reflecting back to them variety. The reflective question usually provides you with an expanded answer without you appearing to ask more questions. Of course, that is best used in conjunction with a pause. Reflective questions or statements focus on clarifying and summarizing without interrupting the flow of the conversation. 1/4 method that is particularly useful to make certain you are clear about what the individual has said is paraphrasing what has just been said in your own words, for example, so if I understand you correctly, you you can use this response to show that you want to increase the accuracy of your understanding of what has just been said. You may also want to use it to ensure the sender. Here's what he has just said. Finally, the last method most often used as a conversation is winding down is the summary question. For example, you have tried ignoring the scent of your colleagues cologne. You have talked with him about how it affects your allergies, and you have tried shutting your door to keep the scent from your workspace. None of these have worked, and now you're asking me to intervene? Have I got it right 8. Active Listening: active listening skills. God didn't give us two ears and one mouth so we could talk twice as much as we listen. Have I got it right. President Franklin D. Roosevelt used to say that people never really listened to what he said. The only kept quiet out of courtesy. Every once in a while he would test his theory and say something like, So good to see you. Hi murdered my grandmother this morning. But he got caught out on one occasion when a woman who was probably a particularly good listener, not a gravely before replying, Mr President, I'm sure she had it coming to her. The problem is that listening and hearing are not the same thing. Most of us were fortunate to be born with hearing, but listening is a skill that must be learned and practiced and perfected before it can be used successfully. Here are some tips for successful listening We should listen for names. Listen with interest. Try to get rid of your assumptions and listen for what isn't said. Listening is hard work. When other people are listening to us, they have the same difficulties we do, so always be clear to the Witham. What's in it for me? Active listening has three stages. Firstly, non verbal messages are equally important when communicating are non verbal messages can include the way we stand, what we do with our hands, the sound of our voice, the way we walk and the expressions on our face. Second stage, verbal cues or phrases such as Go on. Really? And then what? Third stage questions for clarification or summarizing statements. And here are some active listening tips as people talk to you mentally, say to yourself, which means that this way, you be clear in your own mind what you hope to achieve. Take the lead in conversations wherever possible. This gives you the psychological advantage and puts you in the stronger position to direct the conversation along lines that are favorable to you. Check your understanding with your six helpers. Why, what, when, who and how and finally talk less than you listen. Try silence 9. Steps to Building an Explanation: defining explanations. Another important part of critical thinking is being able to clearly explain why something is a particular way. Instead of trying to persuade someone to a particular point of view, Explanations allow you to understand why something happened. Or you may use the explanation framework to evaluate an argument. Explanations focus on causes where arguments focus on evidence. Arguments can be identified by the presence of evidence, such as hard facts or specific events. Explanations can be identified if they appear as an answer to a question. They often appear in the form of opinions with phrases like I think, or my guess is, or in my view, explanations can, however, be an excellent starting point for arguments. Consider the following issue. Attendance has recently been down. During quarterly meetings, an argument could be an explanation. Could be. Let's have a look at this exercise. Determine if each statement is an explanation or argument. There is a four step cycle that you can use to build an explanation, and we start with gathering information to start gather as much information as possible from as many different sources as possible. Be open minded and make sure not to discard anything right away. Ask yourself what kind of resource is might be useful in this stage. Next is processing information. Once information is gathered, it must be processed. This means categorizing the information, assessing its reliability and credibility, and comparing and contrast ing similar pieces of information. Your goal is to make sense of what is in front of you. Developing hypothesis is now it's time to synthesize the information that you have gathered and process it into some possible explanations. Typically, 3 to 5 tentative hypothesis is, is a good number to aim for not too few to restrict yourself, but not too many to overwhelm you. Try asking yourself these questions. How might someone else explain this? Step back from the data and look at the big picture? What does it tell you? And finally, testing hypothesis is finally, it's time to test and evaluate. Your hypothesis is ask yourself. Does this hypothesis account for all the evidence? Does the hypothesis makes sense isn't believable. Why is it better than the other alternatives? Keep in mind that based on the results, you may need to return to a previous phase in the cycle 10. Common Sense: common sense. Everyone must have a rational, well thought out approach to solving problems, common sense and critical thinking. Both play a role in problem solving, as well as how people regard life, situations and each other. Common sense and critical thinking, however, differ in their approach and a level of operation. Common sense is innate, rational thinking that occurs organically in rational humans. Common sense involves thinking and problem solving skills developed from intuition, natural logic and the human ability to observe events and absorb information and lessons from them. These observations allow you to learn from experience and thus to hone and implement sound judgment. You use common sense to approach an attempt to solve problems in day to day life. Every human being gains and uses common sense toe apply impartial, unbiased and responsible logical decisions. On the other hand, critical thinking occurs when a person deliberately examines a situation based on his own knowledge and philosophies. Critical thinking involves judging a situation based on studied reasoning where the person intentionally and consciously focuses on a subject. The quality of critical thinking is based on how sound the eventual judgment of a situation is critical. Thinking allows for planning, calculating, investigating and explaining you use it for situations that require a larger degree of concentration and deliberation. So let have a look at some differences and similarities. Common sense is, by definition, a sound conclusion. Critical banking, on the other hand, can be either sound or unsound mistakes and logic. It can be made through critical thinking. Critics are not always right, and their conclusions can be colored by their own prejudices. Another point of difference lies in the levels of awareness at which both consciousness and critical thinking operate. Critical thinking always occurs at a conscious level, whereas common sense occurs on a liminal level of thought and similarities. Although critical thinking and common sense require different levels of awareness and consciousness to operate, both methods are rational in their arguments or, at the least, attempts to be rational. Both must adhere to some logical form and logical requirements. Now it's your turn. Think about it. If it takes 10 men four days to dig two holes and five men three days to dig one hole, how many men and how long would it take to dig half a whole 11. Critical and Creative Thought Systems: Welcome back, guys. Today we will look at critical and creative thought systems. You might wonder by now how to think creatively. Brainstorming is the first thing that comes to most people's minds. When we talk about creative thinking in a brainstorming session, people made not fear looking foolish. Since wild ideas are explicitly encouraged, there is no one right way to run a brainstorming session. Rather, you should tailor it to your needs, and resource is in doing so, you may find it useful to consider the following guidelines. So before brainstorming, define your purpose. Think of what you would like to walk out of the meeting with. Choose the participants. The group should normally be large enough to provide a stimulating interchange, yet small enough to encourage both individual participation and inventing. This usually means between five and eight people change the environment, select a time and place that distinguishes the session as much as possible from regular discussions. The more different a brainstorming session seems from a normal meeting, the easier it is for participants to suspend judgment, design and informal atmosphere. What does it take for you and others to relax? It may be talking over a drink, meeting at a vacation lodge or simply taking off your tie and jacket during the meeting. Choose a facilitator. Someone at the meeting needs to facilitate to keep the meeting on track to make sure everyone gets a chance to speak. And during brainstorming seat, the participants facing the problem side by side physically sitting side by side, can reinforce the mental attitude of tackling a common problem together. Clarify the ground rules, including the no criticism rule. If the participants do not at all know each other, the meeting begins with introductions all around, followed by clarification off the ground rules. Once the purpose of the meeting is clear, let your imaginations go. Try to come up with a long list of ideas approaching the question from every conceivable angle. Record. The ideas in full view. Recording ideas on large sheets of paper gives the group a tangible sense of collected achievement. It reinforces the no criticism rule. It reduces the tendency to repeat, and it helps stimulate other ideas. And finally, after brainstorming relaxed the no criticism rule in order to bring the most promising ideas to the surface, you are still not at the stage of deciding you are merely nominating ideas worth developing further circled the ideas that members of the group think our best. Take one promising idea and invent ways to make it better and more realistic as well as ways to carry it out. The task at this stage is to make the idea as attractive as you can, prefaced constructive criticism with what I like best about that idea is, or might it be better if at the end, before you break up, draw up a selective and improved list of ideas from the session and set up a time for deciding which of thes ideas to advance in your negotiation and how and now imagine the opposite. After you complete brainstorming process, Write down your idea and then ask people for ways to ensure that it will fail right all responses down and then reverse them. For example, I want to write a newsletter about animals that people will read. Then I will ask people. How do I write a newsletter that no one will read? Possible answers can be used small, unreadable type. Choose topics that aren't relevant to people, offer impractical advice, don't include experts, reversed use large, readable type. Choose topics that are relevant to people. Offer practical advice, include experts. And now try making a list of your assumptions about the current issue. Ask co workers to add to the list, then rephrase each assumption as an open ended question. For example, I assume that we will produce 10 widgets each day. Question. How can we make sure we produce 10 widgets each day? Remember, don't reinvent the wheel when you've solved the problem successfully, or if you hear about a creative solution, right, the solution down in a log. Then, when you're having trouble problem solving, refer back to the log to get your creative juices started. You may even be able to take certain elements of different solutions and bring them together to create a solution for your particular problem. 12. Conclusion: Congratulations. Well done. You have now completed the whole course. How did it go? Any feedback? If you liked this course, perhaps you'd like to share a testimonial or a review. You can also share your feedback. If you have something you'd like to suggest for improvement. Just send us a private message so we can take that feedback and improve our content. Thank you very much for your time and dedication. I wish you good luck with your business.