Critical Thinking in the Workplace

I was asked to do three papers this week.  Here is the third.  Please, folks, don’t wait (like me) until Friday to start that process.  I had stuff earlier in the week preventing me, but still. Joj, clovek, ni je dobro za moj zivljenje.

Here is my essay in full.  Rushed and rough, but we’ll see what grade I get anyway:

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A Brief of the Need for Continued Critical Thinking in the Workplace
Benjamin Towers
Stevens-Henager College

Author note
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Benjamin Towers, Department of Graphic Design, Stevens-Henager College, Orem, UT 84097.
E-mail: bnbtowers@gmail.com

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ABSTRACT
Having success in the workplace requires an understanding of technical data and elements, communication with people and especially with clientele, and an eye for details. Being able to critically analyze and absorb all of these functions is imperative and the key to that success.

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A Brief of the Need for Continued Critical Thinking in the Workplace

What does it mean to be successful?  If a hundred wise people were to answer, there would perhaps be a hundred different answers. Nevertheless, we all seek and desire success.  How it is promulgated and promoted, though, can often be confusing and misinterpreted.  Is success having increasing wealth? Is it having happiness? Being effective in what one does?  How about having enlightenment (or, in other words, understanding)? Having good grades? Being in academia? Possessing common sense? Acquiring respect and pride in oneself? Achieving many accomplishments?  Helping just one other person do something they needed help with? Just living? In short, yes.

We journey through life seeking an understanding of something.  This something is different for every person.  Some seek to understand the natural world and pursue education in the sciences; physics, biology, astronomy, botany, and on and on. Others devote themselves to understanding people. Psychology, medicine, and even the clergy are examples of this process.  Some seek to understand ideas, thus we have the disciplines of philosophy and theology. Some desire an understanding of the physical manifestations of immaterial things such as money, time and age; still others demand to understand the intangible manifestations of physical things like love, pain, anger, cause and effect relationships, etc.  All of these things to understand have merit, and all if mastery over the subject is sought, require a deep understanding, and a persistent desire to seek understanding, of their individual manifestations. That understanding comes of critical thinking, or analyzing all parts of a subject.
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As people choose careers, as a person comes to an understanding of what it is in life that they are most interested in and drives them to fulfill that desire to understand a particular aspect of their life, they will need skills to use in order that understanding will come. Analysis, creativity, judgement, focus, persistence, reason, and cognizance of ideas are all required for critical understanding of ideas.

As a person employed in any profession, the ability to reach conclusions in thoughtful, orderly processes is key to being able to converse and communicate their own idea, and surely to find understanding and acceptance of another’s ideas.  Whether in business or medicine, in science or theological pursuits, reaching an understanding and pursuing a course of action which is beneficial to all is of paramount importance to success in that career path, however you may define success to be. Often these are hurdles that plague us in our pursuits to share our thoughts and ideas with the world. Climate scientists have a great understanding of what changes are happening throughout the worlds climate zones, yet they persist in finding it difficult to communicate with the great mass of people these findings merely because they have not thought about the skill of speaking to another  not in their field on these subjects. (Olson, 2009)

A deep careful analysis of problems and opportunities in many areas of the workplace can promote an understanding and increase of relationships to other areas. Thinking of the technical aspects of projects can help us communicate them better to our clients. Understanding the details, and seeking to know of feedback from clients and thinking on these details can in turn help a project engineer make a better product in the end.
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Technical analysis of data is often time consuming, requiring a great amount of concentration on a particular subject for that considerable time. However, the payoffs are huge. As we enter into an increasingly technology-driven economy, understanding of and application toward technical devices and procedures is now more critical than ever. When one really thinks about how a procedure or software works, then with increasing confidence can they perform the tasks given to promote their business, whatever it may be. From shipping to microchip engineering, being able to comprehend, absorb, and then to think about and apply the knowledge and technology of the workplace is essential to the continued success of any person’s career,

Absorbing and analyzing the details of projects, people and places is a skill worth pursuing. Just like the process of considering the technological aspects of work, understanding the details of a project is absolutely defining of whether a person is ok, good or excellent at their profession. Consider automobile engineering for a moment. Understanding the details and the imperative need for details such as cup holders, ergonomics, lines and control, as well as color, texture, sound, and functionality of space as well as mechanics are necessary to the successful development of an auto manufacturer’s products.  The same can be said for electronics, graphic design, interior design, and even floral arranging. Detail oriented critical analysis is simply the skill of noticing specific details and being able to connect the dots between them for an increased consumer satisfactory experience.

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The critical analysis of emotions and their impact upon human relationships is also absolutely critical for success during a career and in life as a whole.  A careful consideration of emotions,
feelings, and potential reactions is, or at least should be, part of a rational person’s rationale of critical understanding of things such as politics, business, medicine, and advertising or marketing in general.

Finally, though we have been discussing this in other terms, communication requires a deep understanding of another person.  In short, all we do as workers is constantly communicate with another in ways that are more or less so effective. Steven Covey, in his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” (1989) promulgates the idea that the tool with the most life-changing effect on one’s ability to effectively communicate is simply seeking to understand and then to be understood. He explains further that the process of absorbing another’s feelings, thoughts, and understanding of a matter and then being able to see that experience as they do can be the most effective way to truly critically analyze a situation. Client relations, which in short, is just communicating with another person or entity, as well as intra-office communication is key to successful careers.

It has been said that critical thinkers are more certain of themselves and speak softer (Ruggiero 2004). As a final point of understanding why critical analysis is so important, especially in today’s workplace, let us understand that wise, critical thinkers of the past have also

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considered this trait to be especially beneficial. Thus, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. [Indeed,] The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright, but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.” (Proverbs 15:1,2 KJV) Suggesting that those who truly have an understanding of the subject matter, whatever it may be, whether clients, data, or details, have an understanding of themselves and thus control of their own emotions, lives and destiny. turning away wrath promotes communication, understanding respect and consideration. These in turn promote success in every way.

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References
Ruggiero, V. (2004). Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking, 8th edition. McGraw Hill
Olson, R. (2009). Don’t be Such a Scientist Washington, DC: Island Press
Covey, S. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People New York: Free Press

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