Why You Need to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills | Fikra for Business Development

Why You Need to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills

Why You Need to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills & How to Do It
Tuesday, December 17, 2019

As someone who’s worked with dozens of super-smart employees in my capacity as an agency owner, I’ve seen that in some cases, these super-smart people can’t think critically. They can’t solve real-world problems. They can throw out brilliant ideas, but they can’t execute them. A professor friend of mine had the same problem with many of his students. He said that they were well-read, did their homework, did well on the tests, but had a lot of trouble writing essays or having discussions in class. Now it’s obvious that no matter how good your critical thinking skills may be, you might not always immediately use them in certain situations, especially ones that involve intense emotions such as fear. I used to have difficulty thinking clearly when I was just starting out in my career and I would be put on the spot in a meeting full of people with much more experience. I’d feel panic and my mind would go blank. Occasionally this still happens, but I try and remember to slow down and use logic. I think that the best way I improved my critical thinking skills was by training as a programmer. One of our first exercises was to program an elevator. It sounded simple until you realized all the ways the program could fail. (Mine shot out of the building because it never stopped going up.) You had to account for every possible way that a user could screw something up and make something bad happen. It was a great lesson that really changed the way I think about problems. Analyzing a Situation When presented with loads of information, you need to be able to break it down into its parts. You need to organize it and see the patterns and trends involved. It’s difficult to make a good decision when information is not properly organized. n SEO, performing analysis is part of our job every single day. We are called upon to determine “what’s going on!” with a site, whether rankings fall or traffic falls or the client just thinks something isn’t right. We do keyword research and gather 10,000 lines of data that has to be turned into a list of the best keywords to use for paid media and in our content. We break down the link profiles of competitors. We examine top-performing content. All of this is done with the goal of figuring out what needs to be done. With so many great tools available to us in this industry, there is surely a way for every SEO to gain practical knowledge of how to get better at analysis. Practice makes perfect in situations like this, so dig into a site, see what’s there, figure out what’s working and what isn’t and compare it to another site. Anything you can do that organizes data will be helpful. If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend learning a programming language. Or repair your broken dishwasher yourself. Or figure out how to make a recipe vegan and gluten-free. Basically, find a potential or real problem and discover how to fix it. Communicating with Others If you need information from someone, you need to be able to ask for it and understand what you get back. You need to be able to give information, too. Easier said than done in many cases. Let’s say you’re doing an SEO audit for a client. The client doesn’t understand SEO very well and has a lot of questions about the recommendations. You get on the phone to talk. It’s now your job to make sure this client understands what’s going on. There needs to be communication between collaborators, both internal and external. I have one client where I have to communicate with my client representative, a content lead, a writer, and 5 other link builders who are all doing various forms of link building. We can’t afford to have communication breakdowns. You can’t really get better at communicating effectively unless you do it. Writing articles is one way to improve. Speaking at a meeting or conference certainly helps. Someone once told me that creating and presenting a PowerPoint deck is a great exercise in communication because you want the slides to look good but you don’t want to have people sitting there reading bullet points, so you need to be able to keep people’s attention and get your points across.

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