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Critical Thinking: The Art of Thinking Clearly and Rationally

Thinking_(2808468566)We like or dislike people even before we know more about them. We quickly jump to conclusions because we give too much importance to the information that’s right in front of us. Why does this happen? Let’s find out.

Our life is made of moments. Each moment is created by the choices we made. What we choose and what we reject tells who we are, where we want to go and what we do next. If we make a wrong choice, there is no going back to the precise moment when we began on that track.

In this information overloaded world, we have to make quick decisions on which information to follow, pursue, believe or seek out in order to move in the right direction.

Let’s try a test. Recall a recent conversation. Did you develop a quick belief about a situation and then seek out information to support that belief? Did you spend more time discussing only a few options? Were you too emotional during the discussion? Were you over-confident that your decision was right? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there’s a high probability that your decision was illogical and unbiased and will eventually fail you.

To improve your decision-making ability, you have to undertake the process of becoming a “critical thinker.” The first step is to overcome the common barriers to critical thinking such as confirmation bias (finding evidence to back your own thinking), heuristics (mental shortcuts) and framing (deciding based on how something is presented). Overcoming these obstacles requires you to become more curious — to want to know more, to be persistent, to challenge everything, to ask questions, and to tune into the answers you get.

To bring this transformation, you need clarity on your goal and a desire to dig out the information that will help you understand the facts and assumptions. If the information isn’t sufficient or doubtful, then continue asking questions, what I call “powerful questions.” These powerful questions should make the other person think deeply and help you to get relevant and authentic information. (Of course, this means you have to be prepared for the dialog so that your questions are relevant.)

Once you have the information required, draw a conclusion that includes your decision as well as its justification. So remember: The next time something makes you nervous, get curious.

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Written by Sai Prasad

B Sai Prasad, PMP®, PMI-SP®, MVP Project, Senior Manager – Learning & Development, has been with service provider Cognizant Technology Solutions India Pvt. Ltd since 2001 where he was named winner of the company’s Global Trainer of the Year award. He has spent 13,000-plus hours in mentoring, coaching, training 9000-plus practitioners on project management topics ranging from project management concepts, project risk management, project scheduling, Microsoft Office Project® to software estimation techniques.

He is a Champion of Project Management from PMI India and also Associate Champion Advisory Committee, PMI India. He is awarded the Champion of the Quarter (Q4 – 2012) and Delivery Excellence Award (2011-2012, 2012-2013) from PMI India. He’s also the editor of the project management book, Forecast Scheduling with Project 2010. He is a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) in Project 2010. He is the leader of the MPUG Chennai India Group to promote and help practitioners on how to effectively use Microsoft Office Project.

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1 Comment
  1. Awesome insights Sai! I think you meant “bias” not “unbias” towards the end of para 4 above.
    Thank you!


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