Critical thinking is the ability to make decisions, solve problems and take appropriate action.
This is a skill that should be mastered by any practice owner, so here are eight ways to become a better thinker in practice life.
- Take a pause before making a decision. Some decisions require the instinctive brain, others the emotional and the rest the rational brain. Taking a brief pause of a few seconds will allow the appropriate brain the necessary time to function.
- Decisions should not be made in isolation. Thinking is, in many ways, an individual activity. However, this does not mean that most decisions should be made in isolation. The more people are involved in making a decision, the more successful it tends to be. With differing points of view, you will get better ideas as each person can draw from his or her own experience.
- Mind your own practice. You can waste a lot of time and energy trying to change what is outside your influence, instead put your time and energy into the issues over which you have control: your team, your patients, your services. “Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can and learn to recognise the difference.”
- Assume nothing. Critical thinkers never assume. They ask open questions to find the information they need, rather than trying to confirm what they already think. Don’t assume that other people think the same way that you do: ask them for their perspectives. You’ll arrive at better solutions this way.
- The cause in the matter. Often we are so eager to fix the problem that we don’t take the time to figure out what the problem really is. Did one thing lead to the other or was it simply coincidence that both things happened at the same time? Critical thinkers always seek the cause before making their decision.
- Is it true? Critical thinkers aim to bring reason and emotion into balance. They know that just because we want to believe something, doesn’t mean it is true.
- Don’t jump to conclusions. Jumping to conclusions too quickly can lead to wrong information and poor decisions. Instead critical thinkers draw conclusions from their evidence, not evidence from their conclusions.
- Risk management. A lot of life focuses on risk moderation. Effective critical thinkers know how important it is to consider the risks and put preventative measures in place to avoid any issues occurring in the first place.
Keeping the above points in mind will make you an effective critical thinker: you will solve problems more easily, reach better decisions, and will have more agreement from your patients and staff.