Critical Thinking: Theory and Practice

Introduction

This paper is about critical thinking, which is an important attribute of aptitude that employees should have. First the paper considers, in depth, what critical thinking is. Further, an example from personal experience illustrated how critical thinking can apply in the work place is given. Finally, the paper considers the general importance of critical thinking work place decision-making is explored. Critical thinking is very instrumental in the processes of analyzing information and consequently coming up with the best decisions on any given problem, person or condition.

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Critical Thinking

Thinking is the only attribute that distinguishes man from all other animals. The capacity to think makes man a special animal; with enormous power to create, formulate, discern, and build in a systematic way (Moon, 2007, p. 9). Although a lot has been discovered about the brain it is still a mystery how the process of thinking goes on. However we can define what thinking is by looking at what results from thinking. We can therefore successfully talk of thinking as being the brain’s activity that can be communicated to the out side world. There is no common accepted definition of what critical thinking really is. Generally, critical thinking entails the determination of the sense and importance of what is seen or expressed. Critical thinking also concerns looking into a given conclusion or arguments and deciding whether it is justifiably correct to consider the conclusion as correct or right.

Simply put, critical thinking is the cautious deliberation by oneself on whether to agree, disagree or do away with a given assertion. Secondly, if one agrees, then critical thinking requires qualifying the agreement i.e. to what extent one agrees or disagrees with it. Critical thinking looks at the facts about a given aspect in life and the perspective in which a decision is made concerning the facts (Moon, 2007, p. 30). It does not necessarily mean that critical thinking leads to disapproval of a given argument as it is usually the assumption. In many cases, by the process of critical thought, an argument is affirmed as being legitimate.

Thinking is mostly casual but on the other hand critical thinking goes further to look at the worth of thinking. Critical thinking requires one to regard attentively the problems and matters that are in one’s environment, to know methods of dealing with them and finally to have the ability to utilize these methods. In a nut-shell, it involves judgment, decision making or problem solving without the thinker, necessarily, being influenced by another person. How much we think critically determines our personalities. The culture in which we grow up determines to what extend we think, our values and how we perceive ourselves (Paul & Elder, 2002, p.157). We tend to have particular areas of sensitivity like in religion and politics which make us develop egocentric defenses and predisposition.

Striving to strike a balance between our emotions and our thoughts adversely affects our capability to think critically. In most cases our sentiments lead us to entertaining unreasonable thoughts and hence making poor judgment about a given issue. Definitely, if we take time to reflect upon our conscience we will get to know these biases and drawbacks, gradually change on them and hence get time to think rationally.

Personal: Critical Thinking in Work Place

I once had a chance to work as a sales assistant in a supermarket in our town. We were about twenty five of us working at the various stalls in the vast building. At the stall where I worked we were four of us under one supervisor. We were charged with the responsibility of putting the items on the shelves in the required order. We were as well required to guide the customers, answering their queries and assisting them in their shopping. I endeavored to do my best but behind my brain I had a notion that working under this supervisor was not going to be an easy task. I had heard of how mean and irrational the supervisors in the particular supermarket were. I knew or rather I had a perception that they were very harsh and always commanding. Indeed he was really commanding us around, not allowing anybody a chance to rest. I was usually irritated by this considering how I had already been warned about how irrational these people were. To my surprise it appeared like I was the only one who was offended by this. My other colleagues never showed any emotion nor complained about it.

Our supervisor was Indian and I had heard of how the Indians worshipped statues and burnt some substances in front of those statues. At the back of my mind, I spited the Indian and believed he was backward. This affected the way I dealt with him or went about my work. I dragged on my feet when carrying out my duties with an intention to spite him. The sales from my section dwindled because I was not attending to the customs well. He was indeed infuriated and threatened to have me sacked. The idea of losing my job seemed to jerk me back to reality. To avoid losing my job, I started analyzing my work place more objectively. I started focusing on how things are and why they seemed that way to me. I began to realize how irrational I had become to rely on a stereotype to judge my supervisor. I also discovered that the supervisor was not harsh towards my colleagues because they performed their duties diligently without much supervision. The stories I had heard made me hold unjustified prejudice against the Indians. This revelation made me change my attitude towards the supervisor. This indeed changed my fortunes and I became one of the best employees in the supermarket.

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Importance of Critical Thinking in Work Place Decision Making

From the personal experience given, it is clear that critical thinking helps towards a realistic approach to work place issues, problems or conditions. Rather than simply basing decisions on prejudiced facts, critical thinking helps towards going beyond stereotypes or prejudice and dealing with reality (Paul & Elder, 2002, p.7).

Decision making is the execution of an option from many existing choices. This can be as easy as the resolution of whether to do something, or as intricate as choosing scores of actions from several possibilities. People mostly depend on past experiences, guessing or impulse to make decisions. However, it is not always easy to make acceptable decisions basing on these factors. In an organization, decision making concerns resolving issues that affect the organization. To reach the best decision, critical thinking is important. Thinking critically ensures that no hasty judgment is passed concerning a given situation, subject or person. It allows for very careful observation and analysis before a conclusion is made (Paul & Elder, 2002, p.17). Critical thinking also ensures that an organization identifies and deals with the right problem. Ones perception of a problem could not be the same as that of others and hence critical thinking allows for harmonization of ideas.

When dealing with employee appraisal or difficult customers, critical thinking allows for objectivity. Critical thinking means that managers or employees consider opposing views empathetically to reach conclusions that further organizational objectives. Therefore, critical thinking helps towards valid business decisions. Valid decisions are those arrived at after full consideration of all necessary information. Instead on relying on gut reactions, critical thinking exercise both at individual and group levels help organization make better decisions (Paul & Elder, 2002, p.277).

Reference List

Moon, J. A. (2007). Critical Thinking: An Exploration of Theory And Practice, New York: Routledge.

Paul, R. & Elder, L. (2002). Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional & Personal Life. New York: Prentice Hall.

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