How to improve your critical thinking skills (with examples)

How to improve your critical thinking skills (with examples)
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 28 July, 2023


Are you eager to take your career to new heights? It's time to boost your critical thinking skills! You may have mentioned these skills on your resume, but let's dive deeper into what it involves.

In 2021, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) President Syed Hussain Syed Husman said critical thinking is one of the top five skills employers look for in job seekers. Employers want candidates who can think analytically, solve problems, and make valid decisions.

When you start thinking critically, you boost your professional growth. Read on to learn how to improve your critical thinking skills.

Understanding critical thinking

Technology is advancing at an incredible pace. So, critical thinking is now more crucial than ever before. There's so much information at our fingertips. It's important to sift through data and identify what's important. Critical thinking can help you do that.

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is the ability to analyse gathered information. You consider your observations, experiences, and reasoning to make informed decisions. You can apply this skill to all aspects of life, from relationships to finances and careers.

Importance of critical thinking in the workplace

Problem-solving, analytical thinking, creativity, and reasoning are becoming increasingly important in the workplace. In fact, 94% of leaders believe employees must upskill and reskill to stay competitive. So, why not take this opportunity to develop your critical thinking skills?

Once you've honed this ability, your career prospects will improve. You'll stand out in the job market. In the workplace, you'll be able to spot problems and come up with creative solutions. You'll work better and make decisions based on facts rather than assumptions.

Advancing your career ? Being a reliable critical thinker can give you a competitive edge. It's especially important in jobs requiring strategic planning. When you're known for this ability, you're more likely to be entrusted with higher-level tasks. In short, mastering these skills can help you achieve long-term success in your career.

The benefits of developing critical thinking skills

A woman engrossed in critical thinking puzzles

1. Better decision-making

Effectively analysing information and arguments will help you make informed choices. With critical thinking, you base your decisions on evidence and logic.

Being a good decision-maker provides a sense of empowerment and ownership. Eventually, it will lead to higher workplace engagement and enhance job satisfaction.

2. Improved communication and relationships

Critical thinking skills help you connect better, leading to stronger workplace relationships. How? They enable you to comprehend and value different perspectives in our diverse world. By considering various viewpoints, you gain a deeper understanding of complicated issues. When you have this depth of understanding, you can communicate better with coworkers. And your relationships with them will greatly improve.

3. Protection against misleading information and scams

With fake content proliferating on social media, many Malaysians get victimised by misinformation. Avoid getting scammed ! Critical thinking skills will help you identify misleading information. They protect you from falling prey to online fraud.

4. Increased creativity

Developing critical thinking skills can also enhance your creativity. Having such skills makes you challenge assumptions and explore alternatives. You develop an ingenious mindset, which is crucial in industries requiring continuous innovation.

Example of critical thinking skills

Critical thinking involves distinct abilities that work together to form the thinking process. There are several models of critical thinking. Many of them include some combination of the following elements:


Analysis involves breaking down complicated information into smaller, more manageable parts. You aim to grasp the problem better.


Interpretation helps you recognise patterns, themes, and meanings. This allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the information.


Interference lets you combine new information with your existing knowledge. You then draw logical conclusions and make predictions.


Explanation is your ability to clearly and logically explain ideas, concepts, and conclusions.


Evaluation involves assessing the credibility, accuracy, and relevance of the information you've gathered. This empowers you to make informed decisions.


Self-regulation is about your awareness of your biases and assumptions. This lets you be objective and make impartial judgments.

Critical thinking in practice

You can apply this ability to various areas. These include decision-making processes, conflict resolution, innovation, evaluating information, problem-solving, and communication. Here are some examples:

Examples of critical thinking in problem-solving

Critical thinking is crucial in problem-solving or conflict resolution. You use it in identifying issues, evaluating potential solutions, and selecting the best course of action.

Say your company struggles with low sales. Critical thinking can help you pinpoint the underlying causes. You frame the problem to find an effective solution. Instead of saying “we need to sell more,” you can say, “we need to improve our marketing strategy to reach the younger market.”

This set of skills helps you gather relevant information to better understand the issue. Then, you can identify potential solutions, weighing each option's cost-effectiveness and potential impact.

After evaluating alternative solutions, you can create an action plan. Then, divide resources and communicate your intent. Planning only marks the beginning of your problem-solving journey. Use your critical thinking skills along the way. Track and adjust your solutions to achieve the desired results.

Examples of critical thinking in decision-making

Critical thinking enables you to consider all available information. With this, you can weigh the pros and cons of each option. You can make decisions based on facts rather than personal biases.

Suppose your company decides which new product to launch. Critical thinking can help you identify the goal of the decision-making process. You gather and analyse relevant data. Then, you select the right product or alternative products to launch.

During implementation, you develop a launch plan, divide resources, track the success of a product, and adjust the plan. By using critical decision-making skills, you can improve your organisation's outcomes.

Examples of critical thinking in creativity

Critical thinking fosters your creative thinking. It provides a structured approach while encouraging you to think outside the box. Thinking creatively can help your organisation achieve long-term success.

Let's say you're tasked with designing a new product. Critical thinking can help identify unique features to set it apart from competitors. You can assess potential ideas based on market demand or trends. You can also adapt to unforeseen challenges.

Brainstorming is one of the examples of critical thinking in the workplace. You can access a broader range of potential solutions by sharing ideas with others. Critical thinking can also help identify assumptions that limit your creativity. Once you recognise these, you can challenge them to allow new and innovative ideas to emerge.

Examples of critical thinking in communication

Critical thinking skills ensure your messages are clear, concise, and well-supported. They're a valuable tool for effective communication. You need them, whether composing an email or presenting to a group.

Start by identifying the message you want to convey. Consider your audience's needs, values, and perspectives to tailor your communication. Supporting your message with evidence is also crucial. Critical thinkers use credible sources and logical reasoning to persuade their audience.

Critical thinking also helps you expect potential objections and consider counterarguments. It allows you to address them and make your message more convincing.

Examples of critical thinking in analysis and evaluation

You need to do a lot of critical thinking to analyse and test information. Question assumptions, consider different perspectives, check evidence, and draw logical conclusions.

Compare and contrast pieces of information. Find similarities, differences, and relationships. Consider different explanations when evaluating evidence. This way, you can ensure your conclusions are based on a well-supported basis.

You also use critical thinking when you examine proofs, logic, and underlying assumptions. Doing so helps you identify problems in the reasoning. You'll also find areas where you may need more proof to come to a supported conclusion.

Examples of critical thinking in self-reflection

Self-reflection involves examining your thoughts, feelings, and actions. As a result, you learn about yourself and identify areas for improvement. By using critical thinking, you can eliminate bias and develop personal growth strategies.

You can also use critical thinking to analyse past decisions and outcomes. Using this, you can determine whether your decision-making process is logical.

The barriers to critical thinking

A woman thinking while holding her phone

Developing critical thinking skills can be challenging due to various barriers. Overcoming these barriers is necessary to become an effective critical thinker.

Personal biases and prejudices

Personal biases and prejudices can limit your ability to think. They can cloud your judgement and prevent you from considering all perspectives.

Have a strong bias towards a particular political party? You may not be able to check an opposing viewpoint objectively.

Emotional influences

Strong emotions can cloud judgement and impair your ability to think. Fear can cause you to make impulsive decisions. Anger can make you overlook important information.

Lack of knowledge and understanding

A strong foundation of knowledge helps you collect facts from credible sources. A lack of it limits your ability to analyse information and draw logical conclusions.

External pressures

Social norms and expectations can also limit your ability to think. The pressure to conform can discourage you from challenging the status quo.

Lack of time

Time constraints can be a significant barrier to critical thinking. It takes time to analyse and check information. If you rush things, you'll make hasty decisions without considering the necessary factors.

Developing critical thinking skills

A man deep in thought, sitting in front of his laptop

Developing critical thinking skills is a continuous process. It requires deliberate effort and practice. Here are five practical ways to build critical thinking skills:

1. Active listening

Listen to others without interruptions or assumptions. This allows you to understand their perspectives better. It also helps you consider different viewpoints, which is essential for critical thinking.

2. Asking questions

Asking thoughtful and probing questions is vital for critical thinking. It helps you explore different perspectives, clarify assumptions, and identify underlying issues.

3. Challenging assumptions

Critical thinking requires you to challenge assumptions and question established beliefs. By examining assumptions, you can identify potential biases or flaws in thinking. You can also consider alternative perspectives.

4. Seeking feedback

Seeking feedback from others helps you gain new perspectives. It also lets you identify blind spots, and improve your thinking. By getting feedback, you can identify areas for improvement.

5. Continuous learning and development

Practise critical thinking in all areas of your life. Look for leadership opportunities at work that need critical thinking skills. Apply this skill in real life. Then, you'll improve your thinking process in day-to-day decision-making.

How to improve critical thinking skills

A woman meditating at work

Want to develop your critical thinking abilities? Here are some practical techniques and tools.

1. Practise reflective thinking

Reflective thinking involves examining your thoughts and actions. It also requires identifying potential biases and considering alternative perspectives. Practise this skill by reflecting on your beliefs, opinions, and activities. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Why do I believe this?
  • What evidence supports my belief?
  • Are there other perspectives I should consider?

2. Questioning assumptions

Critical thinking requires you to challenge your assumptions and examine the underlying evidence. When faced with new information, ask yourself these questions:

  • What evidence supports this claim?
  • Are there any underlying assumptions influencing the argument?
  • How do I know if this information is reliable?

3. Analysing different viewpoints

When evaluating different viewpoints, consider the evidence presented. Think about the author's or speaker's biases and assumptions. Finally, consider how the arguments relate to your beliefs and values.

4. Use problem-solving techniques

You can practise problem-solving techniques to improve your critical thinking abilities. Such methods can provide a structured approach and clear visualisation to problem-solving. They generate creative solutions to problems.

Tools and techniques for critical thinking

Some common techniques include:


This is a group technique that generates a large number of ideas to solve a specific problem.


Your manager tasked your team to develop a new product. Your team gathers in a meeting room and shares as many ideas as possible, without criticism. You dump all your ideas on a whiteboard. After brainstorming, you review each of the ideas and identify the promising ones. Finally, you use your critical thinking skills to select the best idea for the product.

Root cause analysis

This structured approach identifies the underlying causes of a problem. It addresses them to prevent the problem from recurring.


A company is experiencing a high employee turnover rate. Instead of immediately taking action, the company will first identify the underlying reasons. First, they will collect data through employee feedback surveys. Then, they will use this data to identify the root causes of the turnover. Is it the low pay? Poor management? Lack of growth opportunities? After identifying the root causes, the company can create targeted solutions to address its issues.

SWOT analysis

This technique evaluates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a particular situation to identify potential solutions.


You want to launch a new product. Before doing so, you identify your strengths, like marketing. You also identify the weaknesses, like product development. Then, you pinpoint opportunities, like having a good network. Finally, you think of threats, like economic insecurity. After conducting the SWOT analysis, you can make an informed decision to test your product launch.

Fishbone diagrams

Fishbone diagram

This visual tool helps to identify the possible causes of a problem and how they relate to each other.


Say your new product failed to gain traction. You write the problem (failed product launch) at the head of the fishbone diagram. On the bones, you add the possible causes of failure. Is it insufficient market research? Poor product design? Bad marketing strategy? Write them all down. After mapping these out, use critical thinking to plan solutions to each issue.

Six thinking hats

This structured approach encourages you to approach a problem from different perspectives to generate creative solutions.


Your team plans to launch a new product. To use this tool, one member must wear the "blue hat", representing the role of the facilitator. Another wears the "white hat", representing the data collector and market analyst role.  The one wearing the "yellow hat" brainstorms ideas and explores marketing strategies. These different perspectives help a team generate new ideas.

Utilise decision-making frameworks

Various frameworks can help you make better decisions. These frameworks provide a systematic way to evaluate options. They help you consider potential outcomes and minimise the influence of biases.

Examples of decision-making frameworks include:

Cost-benefit analysis

This framework evaluates the costs and benefits of a decision to determine whether the benefits outweigh the costs.

For example, you want to buy a new piece of equipment for your team. Using the cost-benefit analysis will require you to calculate and compare the costs to the projected benefits. Is the purchase price and maintenance cost worth the increased productivity and higher quality input?

Mind mapping

Mind mapping

This technique involves creating a visual representation of ideas and their relationships. It helps individuals to organise and analyse information and develop innovative solutions.

For instance, you're deciding which supplier to choose. Write each supplier in the centre of a sheet of paper. Draw circles around each one. Add branches to represent each factor to consider for making the decision. Having a visual map of all these bits of information will help you make an informed decision.

The Eisenhower matrix

This framework enables you to prioritise tasks based on their urgency and importance. Let's say you're working on a project with a long list of tasks. Create a plane with four quarters and categorise them into:

  • Urgent and important: Top priority tasks that need immediate attention, such as meeting a client before they leave for abroad.
  • Important but not urgent: Significant tasks for long-term goals, such as hiring talent for a project.
  • Urgent but not important: Critical tasks that don't greatly impact the project, such as replying to low-priority emails.
  • Not urgent and not important: Low-priority tasks that can be delegated, such as replying to comments on social media.

Decision trees

This framework helps individuals evaluate the potential outcomes of a decision. It creates a visual representation of the possible choices and their potential risks and benefits.

For example, you're tasked with allocating a product launch budget. You use a decision tree to map out the possible results of using social media, email marketing, and influencer marketing. For each outcome, assign probabilities. Finally, compare each expected value and use your critical thinking skills to make a sound decision.

The future of critical thinking

In today's age of artificial intelligence (AI), critical thinking is more important than ever.

Technological advancements have led to the automation of several tasks. This is true in many types of workplaces all over the world. But along with this, the demand for critical thinkers has also increased.

Dr Tom Chatfield explains that critical thinking distinguishes us from machines. Although machines are powerful, they can't replicate critical thinking, which is uniquely human.

As we continue to navigate the ever-changing digital age, one thing is certain. That is the rising clamor for skills like critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving. Those skills that relate to the use and development of technology.


Critical thinking is an important skill for personal and professional success. It helps you solve problems and generate new ideas. In today's technology-driven world, strong critical thinking skills are even more crucial. Let's continue to improve and harness them to better impact our lives and society.

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  1. What are critical thinking skills, and why are they important?
    Critical thinking skills involve analysing and evaluating information. You use these pieces of information to make logical decisions.

    ⁠You need critical thinking skills for navigating complex situations. In a rapidly changing world, these skills will you help make sound judgments.
  2. How can I improve my critical thinking skills?
    Question your assumptions. Seek diverse perspectives. Challenge your biases. All these steps will improve your critical thinking skills.
  3. Can critical thinking skills be taught, or are they innate?
    Some people have a natural aptitude for critical thinking. But, these skills can also be taught and developed through practice and education. You can attend an HRDF-claimable course on critical thinking. This will teach you critical thinking concepts, techniques, and tools. You can also pursue graduate programmes with courses that push students to think. If you prefer self-studying, you can also grab books, articles, and other online tools.
  4. What are some examples of critical thinking in everyday life?
    Examples of critical thinking in everyday life include:
    • Identifying fake news or content to avoid scams
    • Analysing news articles
    • Evaluating arguments made by politicians
    • Assessing the credibility of sources
    • Making decisions based on evidence and logic
    • Making big purchase decisions, like buying a car or a house
  5. What are the most common barriers to critical thinking, and how can I overcome them?
    Common barriers to critical thinking include bias, assumptions, ego, emotions, and a lack of information. Recognising and acknowledging these barriers are the first step towards overcoming them. Question your assumptions, seek out other perspectives, and test the information you have.
  6. How can critical thinking skills benefit my career development?
    Having strong critical thinking skills can benefit your career development. They let you make well-informed decisions, solve complex problems, and communicate with others. Employers value these abilities, which can give you a competitive edge in the job market.
  7. How can I encourage my colleagues to develop their critical thinking skills?
    Model critical thinking skills yourself and provide opportunities for your colleagues to practise. Hold regular brainstorming sessions to stimulate ideas. Before each session, make sure to set clear objectives. Define the issues that need to be addressed. Encourage everyone to contribute diverse perspectives and challenge one another's assumptions.
  8. Are there any industries or job roles where critical thinking skills are particularly important?
    In Malaysia, critical thinking skills are fundamental in various industries and job roles. These include business, law, healthcare, education, technology, and government. Strong critical thinking skills can benefit any job involving decision-making or problem-solving.
  9. What are some common misconceptions about critical thinking?
    Common misconceptions about critical thinking include the belief that it's a solitary activity. Many also think critical means negative thinking. Some believe that this mindset is only relevant in academic settings.

    ⁠The truth is that critical thinking matters in everyday life. It fosters collaboration, open-mindedness, and a willingness to consider multiple perspectives.
  10. How can I measure my progress in developing my critical thinking skills?
    Seek feedback from others. Reflect on your thinking processes to identify areas for improvement.

    ⁠Improving your critical thinking skills demands perseverance and dedication. You can advance your career and succeed. Just have a steadfast commitment to enhancing your abilities.

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