There are several different types of thinking styles. Thinking styles affect the critical thinking process either in negative or positive ways. Three of our main thinking styles are persuasive, logical, and emotional thinking. Persuasive thinking is applied when an individual tries to convince someone to accept the message that has been given to him or her. Logical thinking is applied when an individual wants to determine whether there is adequate information to accept what has been presented. Emotional thinking is applied when an individual bases decisions off his or her emotions. For instance, he or she may rely on how he or she feels about his or her personal values, beliefs, and biases to make a decision. Persuasive, logical, and emotional thinking all have common factors and differences within the critical thinking process. Different thinking styles can be compared and contrasted and may affect the critical thinking process. Critical thinking examples in the workplace will be addressed.
An individual uses persuasive thinking to convince someone to accept the message that has been given to him or her. A persuasive thinker usually follows a structured process, which allows him or her to evaluate many variables found within the persuasion process. A persuasive thinker needs to have facts, statements, and arguments that are rational. He or she needs to be sure to have the correct audience. In critical thinking, these same factors apply. In critical thinking, the person is looking at every angle to achieve the best solution.
A workplace example of persuasive thinking is car sales. A car sales person’s goal is to persuade the customer to buy what he or she is selling. The sales person has to have facts about the car the customer is interested in and be able to compete with competitors. The sales person then has to focus rationale. If there is another brand that offers the same thing as what the sales person offers, he or she can use persuasion to ask why the customer would pay more for the same or better amenities. If the product costs more than what competitors have to offer, the sales person may persuade the customer that the higher priced product is worth the extra money.
He or she also has to pay attention to the individual he or she is trying to persuade. For example, if he or she is speaking with a mother, he or she may persuade the woman by telling her that the vehicle is safe for her and her children. The sales person can talk about reliability, as well as affordability. As a result, the mother will use her own critical thinking to decide if the details that have been presented to her are enough for her to purchase the car.
Logical thinking involves identifying and removing reasoning fallacies to create clear and concise thinking (Kirby & Goodpaster, 2007). Two types of reasoning found in logical thinking are deductive thinking and inductive thinking. Deductive thinking consists of syllogisms. Inductive thinking consists of reasonable conclusions that one lives by (Kirby & Goodpaster, 2007).
In deductive thinking, the syllogism is “reasoning in which a conclusion is derived from two premises” (Princeton University, 2010). An example of a syllogism is as follows:
All letters are in the alphabet.
“A” is a letter.
“A” is in the alphabet.
The example of the syllogism is valid because the example is accurate. Some syllogisms may have inaccurate conclusions. One needs to be sure premises support a valid conclusion. Following is an example of possible false premises:
All people who are Irish get drunk.
Fiona is Irish.
Therefore, Fiona gets drunk.
The example above holds fallacies found in generalizing, assumption, and stereotyping. A logical thinker is able to remove such fallacies and come to valid conclusions.
Inductive thinking involves a set of observations or evidence which include some parts of the whole (Kirby & Goodpaster, 2007). The difference between deductive and inductive reasoning is that deductive reasoning is valid, whereas inductive reasoning probably comes to a valid conclusion. Although inductive reasoning can be reliable, deductive reasoning is more likely to achieve an accurate conclusion more often.
There are similarities and differences among logical, emotional, and persuasive thinking styles. Although one can include feelings when thinking logically, a logical thinker realizes feelings are not facts. The emotional thinker relies on feelings and can become blinded by emotions, failing to acknowledge reason. When persuasion is used to enhance an outcome and is based on reason, getting others to believe what one is saying is beneficial, just as in logical thinking. When one has selfish motives behind his or her persuasive thinking, he or she is only manipulating a situation that may be based on false notions. Both emotional and persuasive thinking can inhibit one’s ability to think critically.
Following is an example of logical thinking in the workplace:
Jane works at the domestic abuse violence shelter. One of the residents has a husband who is being released from prison today. He is known to be extremely violent and therefore, very dangerous. In the past, he has known his wife has stayed at the shelter. Jane can conclude, by way of inductive reasoning, that she should take high alert precautions by asking for extra patrol, making sure the alarm is on 24 hours a day, and holding a house meeting for all residents to go over safety protocol with them again.
Emotions in the workplace can be difficult to manage. Sadness, anger, fear, happiness, love, surprise, disgust, shame, and other emotions one experiences can lead to irrational behavior in the workplace. While analytic reflection is beneficial to thinking clearly, some emotions can take one by surprise and create stress if not dealt with appropriately. An inability to respond properly to emotions can leave one immobilized. Quick reactions can take over situations and create the sense of a primal urgency to survive instead of a logical and thoughtful response. Our internal thinking, cognition, is the key to determining any feelings that may arise.
A thoughtful response to inward feelings has to be first appraised and then fit into an appropriate response. A response may take seconds, minutes, or much longer to arrive to. Learning to understand one’s emotions and put them in proper perspective is essential to creating appropriate behaviors and outcomes. Determining when to stop and think through situations before moving ahead and reacting to them may be more helpful than a basic fight or flight response. A basic strategy of dealing with emotions is crucial to success in the workplace. Having a sense of rationality in a situation and taking time to evaluate a situation before acting on it, can keep regrets minimal.
Emotions can play havoc in the workplace. If a person wants to grow in his or her field of expertise, he or she has to be equipped to handle criticism. If a person is emotionally immature, constructive criticism can seem demoralizing or devastating. Without feedback from co-workers and managers, an employee would be unaware of problems pertaining to his or her performance. The way in which one is critiqued is crucial to good development. Important cognitive skills are necessary regarding self-talk, reading, and interpretation of social cues. Using appropriate steps for problem-solving and decision making are important to emotional growth in the workplace.
Making decisions based on critical thinking is essential to the human condition. Persuasive, logical and emotional thinking can affect the critical thinking process. Many times, our emotions can get in the way of logical thought. Persuasive thinking can be a dangerous route leading to another’s solid decision, because persuasive thinking can used to change someone’s mind toward an illogical route. In a positive sense, persuasion can benefit others when one is able to persuade others to see an issue in a reasonable and logical way. When making choices, one must make sure the course of action benefits all involved and does not do harm along the way.
Kirby, G., & Goodpaster, J. (2007). Thinking: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Critical and
Creative Thought, 4e . Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
Princeton University. (2010). Wordnet a lexical database for English. Retrieved from