Analytical Thinking: Why You Need It and How to Get Better.

Analytical thinking skills are critical in the work place because they help you to gather information, articulate, visualize and solve complex problems. Even with comprehensive training, there will be many times where you will be put on the spot to think analytically and the right or wrong answer could make a difference with regard to your upward mobility within the company. You want your employees and especially your boss to trust that you will make the most well-informed and correct decisions. Some decisions can even make or break your career. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to have well-developed analytical thinking skills. However, where do you start? Sometimes, you need to use specific techniques to get information in and out of your brain, creating highly effective maps.

Analytical Vs. Critical Thinking

Some people make the assumption that analytical thinking and critical thinking are one in the same. That is not actually true. You want to have the ability to differentiate the two so that you understand when you need to think critically and when you need to think analytically.

When you think critically, you make the decision whether or not an event, an object or situation appears to be right or wrong. Once you are given information, you evaluate the data and determine how it should be best interpreted. You then make conclusions regarding your unique perception of the information. Moreover, you combine your new information with your current knowledge of the world in order to make the most accurate assessment you can make. You start to look into other pieces of data that could be relevant. In addition, critical thinking takes facts and uses them to form an opinion or a belief.

As for analytical thinking, you use it to break down a series of complex bits of inf
ormation. You take thinks step-by-step to develop an overall conclusion, answer or solution. You look at something through different points of view with the objective to create a cause and an effect. To illustrate, you might try to determine why dogs wag their tails, and then come up with the scientific answer.

Also, with analytical thinking, you use facts to support your conclusion and train of thought. On the other hand, critical thinking is more of an opinion-based style of thinking. Analytical skills lead you to have a more focus and stream-lined approach to solution finding where critical thinking skills can go around in circles infinitely. When you have a complex-problem or solution to find, you would use your analytical skills.

Developing Analytical Skills

If you worry that your analytical skills are not up to par, never fear. They can be developed with time and consistent practice. Like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. One way to start is to read more books. This may sound a little too simple of a solution but it really works. How does it work? Well, it helps when you read as actively as possible. Instead of passively skimming over paragraphs and grazing the pages, try to look at both sides of the story. For example, if you are reading a novel, try to see the plot from the perspective of the hero, the villain and other supporting characters. This causes your brain to think in new ways, and increase your stimulation. Thinking differently helps to expand your mind, which is critical.

Another excellent option
is to build your mathematical skills. Calculus, algebra and statistics all make use of logic and analysis. You need to go through each problem step-by-step in order to come up with the right answer. Sometimes, you have to work a problem multiple times before you finally figure it out. This can be frustrating, but you get better with focused practice. You can also work through different puzzles with the goal of solving them.

Try going for a walk, and observing everything occurring all around you. If you see a squirrel, try to determine what it is doing, and then ask yourself why is it doing that? If it is eating nuts, is it being fed or hunting? Is the squirrel resting or watching? After your observations, let them settle in your mind. The next day, write down your observations. Can you recall your questions and answers?

Analysis and the Workplace

So, now that you understand the purpose and how to use analytical skills, you might not yet know how it is used at your place of work. Well, there are several ways that may not have even crossed your mind. For instance, say you have large amounts of numerical data that you need to summarize. In this example, you might need to use the Excel program to plot the information, in addition to Pivot Tables.

If you have a large, high-level project due in a few times, you are going to have to break it down. First, you need to look at the big picture, and ask what purpose it serves and who it benefits. Second, you need to prioritize the steps you need to take and in what order. Third, you might have to delegate several parts of the project in order to get it done on time. Fourth, you will have to manage the progress and results of the project. Wouldn’t it be nice to be considered “the brain” at the office?

Also, you might have to resolve a technical issue. Your first step would be to determine the cause of the problem. Then, you have to fix the error. After that, you want to take preventative measures to ensure it never happens again. All of these things require questioning, researching and analytical problem solving techniques. Without strong analytical thinking skills, you might come up with the wrong answers that could be detrimental to your workplace reputation.

As you can see, it is essential to develop your analytical thinking skills. There are many uses for it and it’s not just in the workplace. It is beneficial at home or anywhere for that matter. As you get better, you will no longer fear obstacles that come your way. In fact, you might be the first to volunteer to nip them in the bud!

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