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Critical Thinking Skills for Success in Business and Life

Do any of the following statements apply to you?  If they do, you likely are inefficient in one or more of your critical thinking skills.

  • I procrastinate
  • I don’t like reading instructions
  • I get lost easily
  • My desk is a mess
  • My living quarters are disorganized
  • I don’t know where to get started with new projects
  • I don’t like to do research
  • I have trouble delegating
  • I have trouble paying attention in meetings
  • I am frequently late for appointments or dates
  • I am frequently late getting work assignments done
  • I don’t like to plan
  • I am always losing things
  • I frequently feel overwhelmed
  • Learning new computers programs give me fits
  • I am often stressed out
  • New situations scare me
  • I tend to live in a state of anxiety

These and other concerns are signs that a person is not efficient in one or more basic thinking skills.  These inefficiencies can make life difficult for a person and cause you to miss out meaningful opportunities. But don’t worry, we all have some inefficiency and they can be solved if you are willing.

What are basic thinking skills?  They are the skills that we first develop as children through interaction with family and the environment.  Because no family or environment is perfect for learning these skills, we frequently end up with one or more of them being inefficient.

These are foundational skills for the skills we learn later in school, at work and in life.  These higher level skills will be compromised if the any of the lower skills are inefficient.  For example, good reading comprehension requires that seven of the basic skills be efficient. If only one of them is inefficient, it will cause reading comprehension to be inefficient.

If you are inefficient at analysis and synthesis, you will not like or be good at mathematics as it is built on our ability to analyze and synthesize.  Likewise all the business skills we learn are based on these basic skills.  So if we want to be successful in business and not be under a great deal of stress, then being good at the basic skills is a must.  The following is a list of  business skills and some of the necessary basic skills related to them:

  • Listening - Abstract sequencing, tracking, analysis and synthesis, classification and categorization

  • Communication - Analysis and synthesis, classification and categorization, abstract sequencing, motor integration

  • Writing - Field discrimination, analysis and synthesis, classification and categorization, abstract sequencing, motor integration

  • Research - Direction or orientation, field discrimination, classification and categorization, analysis and synthesis

  • Strategic Planning - Analysis and synthesis, pattern recognition, abstract sequencing, motor integration

  • Delegation - Analysis and synthesis, classification and categorization, abstract sequencing, concrete sequencing, pattern recognition, direction or orientation        

  • Supervision - Direction or orientation, analysis and synthesis, classification and categorization, pattern recognition, concrete sequencing, tracking

  • Sales - Direction or orientation, analysis and synthesis, classification and categorization, abstract sequencing, pattern recognition, short-term memory, motor integration

  • Design - Shape recognition, direction or orientation, analysis and synthesis, abstract sequencing, motor integration

  • Creating - Analysis and synthesis, pattern recognition, abstract sequencing, field discrimination, motor integration

  • Visualizing - Abstract sequencing, analysis and synthesis, pattern recognition, tracking

  • Training - Analysis and Synthesis, classification and categorization, abstract sequencing, concrete sequencing, direction or orientation, pattern recognition, motor integration

  • Computer Skills - Field discrimination, analysis and synthesis, classification and categorization, abstract sequencing, concrete sequencing, pattern recognition, tracking, motor integration

  • Monitoring - Tracking, pattern recognition, concrete sequencing, analysis and synthesis, classification and categorization

  • Mentoring - Analysis and synthesis, classification and categorization,  direction or orientation, abstract sequencing, concrete sequencing, tracking, pattern recognition, motor integration

  • Interviewing - Direction or orientation, field discrimination, analysis and synthesis, classification and categorization, tracking, pattern recognition

  • Accounting - Classification and categorization, field discrimination, analysis and synthesis, tracking, pattern recognition, direction or orientation, abstract sequencing, concrete sequencing, motor integration

Most of us are not familiar with these basic skills even though we use them every day.  No one has helped us be aware of them nor has anyone told us how to improve them.  These skills should function at the unconscious level, but if they are inefficient they will require us to use conscious energy to do what should be automatic.  This will slow us down and cause higher level skills to be tedious and more difficult than they have to be.

So if you suspect that you may be inefficient in one or more of these skills, what can you do about it?  You should practice things that require that skill.  For example, if you are always getting lost, play with maps, take aerobic or dance classes, play tetris on the computer and so on.  Practice activities that will make you make directional decisions.  If your desk, house, closets and emails are unorganized or a mess, think about how to organize them and practice bringing order to the mess, ask others who do it well for advice.  This will help you with classification and categorization.  If you get overwhelmed with projects and assignments, break the task down into small steps so it can become manageable.  This will help you with analysis and synthesis.  The job is to practice those things you are not good at and often don’t want to do.  With practice you will get better. 

Some suggestions for improving these basic skills can be found here.

Most people don’t think about their thinking.  And those who do usually focus on WHAT they think rather than HOW they go about thinking and making decisions.  Yet we all possess unconscious mental templates, and we rely on them to filter our experiences and derive our decisions.

At the American Institute of Learning and Cognitive Development, we help people with these every day.  We help people in business, school, sports and even brain injury.  We are currently working with the U.S. Marine Corps to help them improve these skills and thus improve their overall effectiveness.


 
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