Critical Thinking: Strategies in Decision Making

Critical thinking is the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion (Dictionary. com, n. d. ). Critical thinking has two basic components: a set of information and belief generating and processing skills, and the habit of using those skills to guide behavior. Other aspects of critical thinking include working out situations and dilemmas, answer questions, and settling issues that are essential to ones welfare and interests. Thinking happens in every situation in every aspect of life.

“The best thinkers use their ability to think well in every dimension of their lives” (Paul & Elder, 2006). Critical Thinking Steps Critical thinking is used in all dimensions of life whether in personal situations or work related situations. Most of the time in personal issues people are more apt to make decisions that will benefit them more in the end. In work related issues, people tend to make decisions that will benefit the majority of everyone involved. Critical thinking is vital in the decision-making process when coming up with new ideas and finding the different point of views.

As a critical thinker, there are a few steps while thinking. First, is to raise important questions and issues. Second, is the assembly and evaluation of significant information. Third, is coming up with well thought out answers, analyzing the answers with different outcomes and scenarios. Lastly, a critical thinker must keep an open mind and have the ability to consider all possible conclusions. If a problem arises, a critical thinker will have the ability to communicate well with others to gain a better perspective on the situation at hand. ? Personal Experience

In a personal situation where I had to use critical thinking was in regards to my divorce. I had to think about how I would be affected by the decision as well as how my children would be affected by my decision. I had to weigh out the pros and cons of staying married versus getting a divorce. Weighing out the custody was another decision I faced. I wanted what was best for my children, and these decisions were not easy. Discussing the options with my ex-husband and being able to make these decisions jointly made things easier for the both our children and us. Work Related Experience

Using critical thinking in work has proven beneficial. I worked for a company a few years ago where I held a position in customer care over the telephone. This position presented me with the opportunity to apply my critical thinking skills. When I first started with the company I was responsible for billing, but I decided to apply for a position in developing and maintaining the performance and payroll reporting for the lobby locations. I had an office, independence to complete my tasks without supervision, and had a prime shift – 8 to 5 Monday through Thursday and 7 to 4 on Friday.

On the home front, I was able to put dinner on the table by 6 PM, did not bring work home, and was never on call. When the billing services ‘Subscriber Management Systems Specialist’, position was posted, I was very interested, but I had to weigh the benefits of both positions. I developed a table with pros and cons in order to assist with the decision. Based on the results I outlined, I chose to apply for the new position. It meant giving up some personal time with my husband – salary of course, means 40+ hours a week, but the challenge and growth opportunity outweighed the other factors.

Had I not applied critical thinking, I would have gone with my gut, which told me to stay in the lobby where I was comfortable. Being able to put emotions aside allowed me to think clearly about a very important decision in my life. Critical thinking is important in decision-making. Some people develop thinking in a “weak sense” whereas others develop thinking in a “strong sense”. “Critical thinkers strive to develop essential traits and characteristics of the mind” (Paul & Elder, 2006).

I believe that critical thinkers do not allow emotions or bias to determine the outcome of the situation, but will have strong facts to support their position. I believe we all must strive to think at a higher level, and recognize our biases and rise above them to become effective critical thinkers. ? References Critical Thinking. (n. d. ). Dictionary. com’s 21st Century Lexicon. Retrieved December 13, 2009, from Dictionary. com website: http://dictionary. reference. com/browse/critical thinking Paul, R. , & Elder, L. (2006). Critical thinking: Tools for taking charge of your learning and your life. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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