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/ How to Develop the 7 Skills of Critical Thinking

How to Develop the 7 Skills of Critical Thinking

IN: Leadership.22 FEBRUARY, 2022
How to Develop the 7 Skills of Critical Thinking

According to the World Economic Forum Report, Critical Thinking is the 4th most important skill by 2025.

So far, people who have critical thinking already stand out, as they make better decisions, are more eloquent in their arguments, managing to be more credible and evolve as people and professionals.

In the Digital Age, with the increase in available information, it has become even more important to know how to distinguish what is reliable and what is fake news . With the increase in the competitiveness and complexity of services and products, it is also necessary to always be learning and innovating. The development of Critical Thinking is thus increasingly becoming a priority.

We have prepared this article to help you develop Critical Thinking. See the topics we have prepared for you:

  1. But what is Critical Thinking anyway?
  2. The History of Critical Thinking
  3. Advantages of Critical Thinking in Leadership
  4. Critical Thinking Self-Diagnosis
  5. Tips for Developing the 7 Skills of Critical Thinking


But what is Critical Thinking anyway?

“Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking, while you’re thinking, in order to make thinking better”

Richard Paul

Critical Thinking is a cognitive competence, resulting from the combination of cognitive skills and dispositions. It is defined by the ability to analyze and evaluate existing information on a given subject, trying to clarify the veracity of the information and arrive at a justified idea about it, ignoring possible external biases.

With this, we seek the justified idea of reality and not blindly accept what others tell us.

It implies having the ability to make complex choices and solve problems in innovative ways, integrating existing thinking with new knowledge and applying it in different contexts.

Critical Thinking has 7 underlying capabilities:


“You must be willing to say, “I don’t Know” and then be willing to do something to change that.”


According to Bloom's Taxonomy, there are different types of thinking that imply different degrees of complexity. At the bottom is memorization and at the top is creation – being able to connect new knowledge with acquired knowledge, creating new solutions. Critical thinking requires all these types of thinking. Critical thinking requires making the brain actively learn rather than just being a passive store of information.

Critical Thinking is closely related to other abilities, such as creativity, logic, intuition, allowing us to develop new strategies and ways of seeing and perceiving the world.

Thinking critically implies being aware of yourself, your thoughts and biases, as well as capturing the needs of others, and helping them to transform them into added value.

Critical reflection is a process that requires a decentralization of the being, which implies self-questioning. Whether about a subject, a problem, or even about ourselves, it ends up causing discomfort. Self-reflection is not an easy task, as it involves questioning your methods, your “certainties” and your “truths”.

It is through this awareness and leaving the comfort zone that growth and learning come from.


The History of Critical Thinking

“Critical Thinking is having the desire to seek, the patience to doubt, the effort to meditate, the slowness to affirm, the willingness to consider, the care to order and the hatred of any kind of imposture.”

Francis Bacon (1561-1626)


Common sense tends to combine being skeptical with being indecisive, indifferent, hesitant, insecure, irresolute. In fact, skepticism is the foundation of Critical Thinking and can become a valuable tool for developing this skill.

As Descartes stated in the “Discourse on Method” (1637), methodical doubt is the means to reason. It was in Ancient Greece that this concept was born, underlying the study of philosophy. Even without knowing it at the time, Socrates would come to be considered the Founder of Critical Thought, as this concept was only coined as such in the 20th century.

Socrates left the Socratic Questioning present - a form of disciplined and systematic questioning that allows to elevate logical thinking, exposing the logic behind someone's thinking. It consists of a discussion carried out by a person who does nothing but ask questions, and where each question is based on the answer given to the previous question.

Due to its antiquity, the concept has evolved in theoretical and practical terms, molding itself to multiple contexts. Initially, the philosophical approach conceptualized a hypothetical and idealized critical thinker, enumerating qualities and characteristics of this profile rather than specific behaviors.

Later, Cognitive Psychology characterizes the critical thinker through measurable skills, reinforcing that this is a skill that can be learned and improved.


Advantages of Critical Thinking

The development of the ability to think critically allows for effective reflection and a more objective view. These capabilities are what distinguishes us from machines, and therefore, the “gold mine” that must be invested in to gain a competitive advantage in the market.

Having a good Critical Thinking ability also helps to avoid conformism and to move forward as human beings.

The practical effects of developing Critical Thinking:


Critical Thinking Self-Diagnosis

The University of Manchester created for your students a short version of the Critical Thinking Self-Assessment. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is “Never” and 5 is “Always”, answer each statement. If you answer “Always” most of the time, we can say who is a born critical thinker. If you answered “No” or “Not always”, don't worry, there is always room for improvement and in this article we show you how with practical tips.

  1. I look for evidence before I believe claims;
  2. I look at problems from different perspectives;
  3. I feel confident to present my own arguments, even when they challenge the views of others;
  4. I actively look for evidence that might contradict what I already know;
  5. My opinions are influenced by evidence, not just personal experience and emotion;
  6. If I'm not sure about something, I'll search to find out more;
  7. I know how to look for reliable information to develop my knowledge of a topic;
  8. Based on the information I can draw logical conclusions;
  9. I can solve problems in a systematic way (define the problem, identify the causes, prioritize, etc.), that is, without making decisions only by intuition.


If you answered no or “not always” to more than half of the statements in the self-diagnosis, then it means that you have a large learning window and, consequently, a great potential for improvement.


Tips for Developing the 7 Critical Thinking Skills

To be good at Critical Thinking, you have to develop the 7 skills that underlie it

  1. Curiosity;
  2. Ability to look at a problem through different prisms.
  3. Ability to argue;
  4. Open mind; Flexibility;
  5. Impartiality;
  6. Logical and factual and systematic analysis
  7. make inferences


Adopt these tips in your daily life and tell us about the effects it has had on your life.

1. To develop curiosity

Focus on goals , not obstacles - Focusing on goals will help you focus on solutions and alternatives.


2. To develop the ability to look at a problem through different prisms

Train empathy - Being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes makes it easier to understand how they came to the conclusions they did. Even if you don't understand the other's point of view, try to understand why he thinks the way he does and always respect individuality.


3. To develop the ability to argue…

Actively participate in debates and prepare yourself by researching and comparing arguments. Always look for (reliable) foundations that deny or corroborate your arguments. Be open to looking for information that goes against your ideas.


4. To develop open-mindedness and flexibility…

By keeping an open mind, you are maintaining flexible thinking, which means that you are able to change or adapt it if better additions or suggestions arise. You can develop this by having friendly debates with people you know have a different opinion than you do. Try to be open to their arguments and points of view and not judge.

Question stereotypes. Ask yourself where they come from and why you have them. Great Stereotypes are often nothing more than an exacerbated generalization, and these are blinders for our eyes.


5. Impartiality;

To eliminate any prejudice, play devil's advocate and build a case against your decision

Practice balanced thinking. This thought implies overcoming impulsiveness and automatic reactions, taking a few moments to reflect before taking action. Look before you leap. Practice knowing yourself and others. Learn to understand and master your emotions, observe and analyze your own behavior, find more “healthy” and appropriate ways to react. To not get carried away by emotions.


6. To develop logical, factual and systematic analysis…

If you're stuck making a decision, don't artificially limit your options. We usually think of decisions as if they were binary. By thinking of decisions as binary – black or white – you are missing out on a range of alternatives. Put all options on the table, even those that seem absurd. Take a closer look at the various options to find the best solution.

Create a series of experiments to validate whether the result is desirable. In many situations, it's best to "put your foot in the water" before fully committing. This is a validation process, where you test ideas on a small scale before committing 100% to any decision.

To get some perspective, focus on the future. Take some emotional distance, imagining the potential implications and consequences the decision will have in the future, outlining all the possibilities


7. To make inferences…

Try to listen to your intuition. Sometimes our mind acts in a concrete way that we cannot rationally explain. Intuition is often conceptualized as the result of unconscious processing of information, that is, as performing an internal analysis of information that we do not have processed at an unconscious level. You can listen to your intuition by paying attention to the thoughts that come to your mind and writing them down in a notebook.



Exercising Critical Thinking is essential for anyone who wants to improve their skills. This approach allows for well-formed opinions and more assertive decision-making. By developing Critical Thinking you will be adding potential and personal value, as this is one of the most important skills to develop until 2025. 



Learn about our Critical Thinking program.



Sara Oliveira


Baker, G. S. (2020). CRITICAL THINKING  (1st ed.). sannainvest ltd.

Behling, O., & Eckel, N. L. (1991). Making sense out of intuition. Academy of Management Perspectives5(1), 46-54.


Burke, L. A., & Miller, M. K. (1999). Taking the mystery out of intuitive decision making. Academy of Management Perspectives13(4), 91-99.

Dörner, D., & Funke, J. (2017). Complex problem solving: what it is and what it is not. Frontiers in psychology8, 1153.

Hacker, D. J. (1998). Definitions and empirical foundations (pp. 15-38). Routledge.

Kingsbury, J. M., & Bowell, T. A. (2016). Thinking critically about beliefs it's hard to think critically about.

Lai, E. R. (2011). Collaboration: A literature review. Boston: Pearson

Marrapodi, J. (2003). Critical thinking and creativity: An overview and comparison of the theories. Unpublished ED7590 Critical thinking and adult, Providence, RI.

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