Any job has different types of colleagues you work with. Some are great to work with, while others not so.
Some pick up on stuff very quickly, and others exceptionally slowly, and you need to explain everything to them five times.
In today’s article, we’ll be exploring the former.
In fact, if your colleague displays the following traits, they’re probably a critical thinker.
1) They’re analytical
A critical thinker is someone who thinks deeply, questions things, and doesn’t just accept information without considering it carefully.
Critical thinkers also have strong analytical skills. They help them examine complex problems or situations and break them down into smaller, more manageable parts.
They can recognize patterns, connections, and relationships between different elements, helping them gain a deeper understanding of the issue.
Ideally, every co-worker would do this in their workplace, but we can only dream of that, right?
2) They’re open-minded
If your co-worker approaches information with an open mind, they have what it takes to be a critical thinker.
Being open-minded means they’re receptive to diverse perspectives and are willing to consider ideas that challenge them.
It also means they aren’t set in their ways and aren’t stubborn because “they have been here for 15 years and know how to do things.”
By the way, that quote is one of the most annoying things you can hear from someone you’re trying to teach new and improved things.
So ideally, you want an open-minded colleague as it allows them to embrace new perspectives and integrate valuable insights into their thinking.
3) They’re skeptic
While they’re open-minded, critical thinkers are also skeptics. They question the credibility and validity of information before accepting it as true and accurate.
And I don’t mean they’re climate deniers, anti-waxers, and flat-earthers like many “skeptics” out there.
They don’t readily believe claims without evidence and are cautious about accepting information at face value.
For instance, they don’t believe outrageous claims just because they heard them in 10 YouTube videos and have “done their research.”
4) They have problem-solving skills
Every position and job comes with problems, issues, situations, trials, and more.
Because of that, you want colleagues that are resourceful and tackle problems head-on.
So if you have a co-worker(s) that fits this description, count yourself lucky and know that they’re probably critical thinkers, too.
You see, one of defining traits of critical thinkers is that they excel in solving problems effectively.
They approach challenges creatively and resourcefully, using various techniques and strategies to reach practical solutions.
5) They’re curious
How many of your colleagues are curious and have an intellectual hunger? Probably not that many unless you work with scientists, right?
In that case, hopefully, they’re all critical thinkers.
In any case, critical thinkers are naturally curious. They have a thirst for knowledge and actively seek to explore diverse topics, even if they aren’t directly related to their area of expertise.
Their curiosity drives them to ask questions, explore new ideas, and remain intellectually engaged.
But they also have the following trait.
6) They self-reflect
Have you ever caught your colleague daydreaming or contemplating things? They were probably self-reflecting.
Self-reflection is another essential part of critical thinking. Most critical thinkers regularly examine their thought processes and decisions to better understand their reasoning.
By reflecting on past experiences, they learn from their successes and mistakes and improve their future thinking.
Everyone can do this, really. For that, I recommend journaling.
Keep a reflective journal where you can write down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This helps you organize your thoughts and track your progress over time.
Pose open-ended questions like “What did I learn today?”, “What challenges did I face?” or “What could I have handled differently?”
7) They’re logical
The next thing you need to pay attention to is whether your colleague follows logical sequences and spots flaws in arguments.
Can they identify faulty premises, weak evidence, or logical fallacies, allowing them to evaluate the reality of different claims or propositions?
If the answer is yes, they are, in fact, a critical thinker.
This sort of reasoning is excellent in many positions and careers, such as research and data analysis, engineering, programming and software development, architecture, and the list goes on and on.
Gathering information from reliable sources is crucial for critical thinking. And they excel when they know how to conduct research effectively, identify credible sources, and evaluate the quality and relevance of the information they find.
8) They’re self-aware
I worked with many, many colleagues and managers that lacked any sort of self-awareness.
Some of them weren’t actively listening, blamed others for their mistakes, overestimated their abilities, or became defensive and dismissive when you gave them constructive criticism.
You can agree with me when I say none of the above behavior should be acceptable at work (or elsewhere, for that matter).
That’s why working with a self-aware co-worker is great. They know what they know and don’t know, understand their abilities, listen to feedback, etc.
If they have this trait and others on this list, they’re a critical thinker.
9) They have effective communication
So if you’re working with good communicators who know how to listen actively and talk assertively, know you’re in a good place because many work settings aren’t even close to that.
Colleagues that articulate their thoughts clearly and concisely are also probably critical thinkers.
They express complex ideas in a way that you and others can easily understand, and they also actively listen to other perspectives, encouraging constructive and respectful dialogue.
But that’s not all they’re good at. They also excel at decision-making.
10) They’re good at decision-making
When making decisions, critical thinkers weigh what’s in front of them, consider potential consequences, and evaluate different options.
They make informed choices instead of relying on gut feelings or impulsive reactions.
Think of what happens when you visit a doctor with a complex condition. The doctor gathers exhaustive medical history, orders diagnostic tests, and consults with other specialists to arrive at a precise diagnosis and treatment plan.
Their decision-making leads to an accurate diagnosis and appropriate medical intervention, improving your health outcomes.
But every doctor knows they need to have the following trait too.
11) They’re adaptable
Every single position I held required me to be highly adaptable to outside circumstances. It’s something modern workplaces simply expect from their employees.
Sadly, many workers just aren’t good at that for many reasons.
But critical thinkers are flexible in their thinking. They adapt to new circumstances because they don’t have a rigid mindset.
An adaptable sales rep adjusts their sales approach based on the feedback and needs of different clients.
They tailor their communication style, product presentation, and negotiation strategies to secure deals in ever-changing markets.
Did you notice this about your colleague?
12) They have empathy
Empathy is one of the most important skills or traits a co-worker can have. This helps them put themselves in other people’s shoes and see where they’re coming from.
This is important when dealing with both colleagues and clients.
First of all, an empathetic workplace promotes a supportive and caring atmosphere where all employees feel comfortable asking for help, sharing concerns, and discussing challenges openly.
And on the other side, when employees show empathy towards clients, they genuinely understand and care about their needs, concerns, and emotions.
13) They have intellectual humility
And lastly, we’re back to self-awareness. Critical thinkers admit they don’t know everything and that they make mistakes.
Above all, they’re humble about their knowledge and expertise, knowing that continuous learning and growth are essential to intellectual development.
Instead of boasting about their accomplishments or knowledge, intellectually humble people remain modest about their achievements.
They’re more likely to work collaboratively with others, valuing the expertise and contributions of their team members.
So there you have it – 13 traits that show whether your colleague is a critical thinker. And now tell me, how many co-workers of yours fit the description?
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