Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 31, 2019

What Is Logical Thinking and How to Strengthen It

What Is Logical Thinking and How to Strengthen It

When we say that something is logical, what we actually mean is that it makes sense. Logical reasoning skills are the ability to focus on the presented task by following the chain of the thought process by relating one statement after another, until finding the most logical conclusion.

Although many won’t notice, all of us face challenges on a daily basis which we overcome thanks to our reasoning skills. While calculating the prices in the supermarket, just to check if we can get everything we need for a lower price, or while trying to fit all our obligations into a single day, our thinking machine spins its wheels to find the perfect solution.

However, if you find yourself lost at the register, well, you might need to work on logical thinking development.

Division of Labor in Our Brains – The Left Hemisphere Is More Involved in Logical Thinking

The brain is a complex structure[1] divided into two hemispheres – the right and left.

Although the districts interact with each other, the truth is that one side is always more dominant than the other. Regarding this division, every side has its own purpose and a specific thinking style. For example, the right side is in charge of emotions and creativity, whereas the left side brings control to the mix and provides logic when things seem confusing.

Advertising

However, the right side of daydreaming can affect the process of logical thinking as well. According to researchers,[2] the logical reasoning performance is modulated by the emotional state. What is more interesting is that most children are ranked as being highly creative[3] before going to a logic-oriented school. Or at least it used to be, as the school system now offers some chance for creative outlets such as art and crafts.

The left side of the brain improves the understanding of math and science, as it processes the information from a part to a whole. Those sequences hidden in numbers, symbols, and letters are much clearer when arranged in logical order.

On the other hand, the right side looks at the entire picture, only so that it can break it into smaller parts. Likewise, the right side people love concrete things they can smell, feel or taste and have trouble verbally expressing.

The logical side of the left hemisphere includes:

  • Logic;
  • Facts;
  • Details;
  • Patterns;
  • Strategies;
  • Words;
  • Language;
  • Order;
  • Perception;
  • Past & Present;
  • Practicality;
  • Safety;
  • Comprehension;

Logical Thinking Is Not an Inborn Talent, But Something You Can Learn and Practice

Enhancing logical reasoning is simply learning to pay a closer attention to details. Therefore, there are a few easy techniques to help you overcome thinking obstacles and really focus.

Advertising

Stop Viewing Things from Your Own Perspective Only

To advance logical thinking process, it is crucial to differentiate established facts from personal observations. Concentrating on the environment and your senses is just individual perception, which mustn’t be confused with logic.

For example, let’s say that two people got together to share a meal. To one person the dish smells repelling, while the other is enjoying their lunch. The first person didn’t like the smell, so they concluded that the meal is inedible, unhealthy and not properly prepared. This is not a logical way of coming to the correct conclusion.

First of all, person A didn’t have any supporting evidence of the food being unhealthy or poorly made. Consequently, conclusions drawn from this observation are inadequate.

In order to get to a logical conclusion, one must shut off their own skewed opinions, and focus on proven information like the ingredients used to prepare a dish, ways of cooking the food, and the equipment used to prepare it, so that they can form a clear statement. Apart from the observed facts, the conclusion must also be drawn from culinary knowledge and not based upon calculated guesses.

Think Before You Start Doing – Create a Strategy

Since logical thinking implies noticing all the details and putting them together one by one until the picture becomes clear as day, strategy plays a major role in the thinking process. Learning to think strategically will not only power the brain, but it can also help you deal with business obligations faster and more proficiently. And how do you develop such useful skill?

Advertising

Start by questioning everything and trying to interpret repetitive patterns. Learn from mistakes so that you can anticipate what is ahead. Keep the mind constantly active and look for details and learn how they function individually and in the group before focusing on the bigger picture.

Dig into the Meaning of Words Carefully

As the logic is more verbal, the slight language variations make a big difference. Knowing the difference between statements will definitely tighten up the loose screws of logical thinking.

If you hear “necessary” in a statement, you immediately know there is a condition that needs to be fulfilled, unlike “sufficient” which denotes a minimal level of effort that will lead to a positive outcome. Every condition has a slight alteration in meaning, just as the word order in a sentence carries a certain meaning.

It is not the same if someone says: “if you do that, then you will get the reward” and “if you got the reward, then it was because I told you to do that”. It may not be detected at first, however, the variation still exists. In the first sentence there is a condition by which a person gets the reward, yet in the second it is inverse, meaning that it contradicts the first statement and its conclusion.

Enhance Your Logical Thinking at Leisure – Games and Mystery Books

Every day we escape into the digital world searching for a new form of entertainment. But why not use it for improving our logical reasoning? Math doesn’t have to be boring if used as a game.

Advertising

There are plenty of mental challenges online or in a form of an app to boost our memory and our logical thinking. One can even benefit from Facebook Poker games. Playing card games makes you more focused and analytical, hence, it activates the left side of the brain.

Also, getting lost in a mystery book is not only for the right brainers. Actually, a good puzzle book can help you work on the strategical thinking process through solving all the different enigmas within. The same goes for a game of chess.

Even geniuses were not born all-knowing; they studied, explored, and worked on their logical thinking skills. So, use the simple methods listed above in your day-to-day life to improve not just your logical thinking, but also your overall productivity. After conquering the field of logical reasoning no one will ever be able to call you an unrealistic dreamer again.

Featured photo credit: Volkan Olmez via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Vladimir Zivanovic

CMO at MyCity-Web

5 Rules for Overcoming Adversity and Emotional Pain What Is Logical Thinking and How to Strengthen It 7 Coming of Age Books That Should Be on Your Reading List The Active Holiday: 5 Great Activities for Adventurous Spirits Why Lack of Movement is Our Biggest Enemy and How to Deal With It

Trending in Smartcut

1 How To Use Goals and Dreams To Achieve Personal Success 2 Why You Need to Set Future Goals (And How to Reach Them) 3 How to Swiftly Make a Midlife Career Change 4 13 Critical Things to Consider Before Switching Careers 5 10 Best Task List Apps to Boost Productivity in 2020

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on May 26, 2020

7 Most Effective Problem Solving Techniques That Smart People Use

7 Most Effective Problem Solving Techniques That Smart People Use

Problems are, by their very nature, problematic. There are life problems, work problems, creative problems, and relationship problems. When we’re lucky, intuition takes over, and we solve a problem right away. When we’re not so lucky, we get stuck.

We might spend weeks or even months obsessing over how to write that term paper, get out of debt, or win back the love of our life. But instead of obsessing, let’s look at some effective problem solving techniques that people in the know rely on.

Ideation Vs Evaluation

It’s important to first understand and separate two stages of creativity before we look at effective problem solving techniques. Ideation is like brainstorming. It’s the stage of creativity where we’re looking for as many possible solutions as we can think of. There’s no judgment or evaluation of ideas at this stage. More is more.

After we’ve come up with as many solutions as possible, only then can we move onto the evaluation stage. This is when we analyze each possible solution and think about what works and what doesn’t. Here’s when all those good ideas from ideation rise to the top and the outlandish and impractical ones are abandoned.

7 Problem Solving Techniques That Work

Everyone has different ways of solving problems. Some are more creative, some are more organized. Some prefer to work on problems alone, others with a group. Check out the problem solving techniques below and find one that works for you.

1. Lean on Your Squad

The first of our seven problem solving techniques is to surround yourself with people you trust. Sometimes problems can be solved alone, but other times, you need some help.

There’s a concept called emergence that begins to explain why groups may be better for certain kinds of problem solving. Steven Johnson describes emergence as bottom up system organization.[1] My favorite example is an ant colony. Ants don’t have a president or boss telling them what to do. Instead, the complicated organization of the ant colony comes out of each individual ant just fulfilling their biological destiny.

Group creativity can also take on an emergent quality. When individuals really listen to, support, and add onto each other’s ideas, the sum of that group creativity can be much more than what any individual could have created on their own.

Advertising

Therefore, if you are struggling to solve a problem, you may want to find a group of people with whom you can collaborate, so you can start riffing with them about possible solutions.

2. Regulate Your Emotions

The next of the problem solving techniques is to be honest about how you’re feeling. We can’t solve problems as efficiently when we’re stressed out or upset, so starting with some emotional self-awareness goes a long way in helping us problem solve.

Dr. Daniel Siegel famously tells us to “Name it to tame it.” [2] He’s talking about naming our feelings, which offers us a better chance of regulating ourselves. I have to know that I’m stressed or upset if I want to calm down quickly in order to get back to a more optimal problem-solving state.

After you know how you’re feeling, you can take steps to regulate that feeling. If you’re feeling stressed out or upset, you can take a walk or try breathing exercises. Mindfulness exercises can also help you regain your sense of presence.

3. Listen

One thing that good problem solvers do is listen. They collect all the information they can and process it carefully before even attempting to solve the problem.

It’s tempting to jump right in and start problem solving before the scope of the problem is clear. But that’s a mistake.

Smart problem solvers listen carefully in order to get as many points of view and perspectives as possible. This allows them to gain a better understanding of the problem, which gives them a huge advantage in solving that problem.

4. Don’t Label Ideas as Bad…Yet

The fourth of the seven problem solving techniques is to gather as many possible solutions as you can. There are no bad ideas…yet.

Advertising

Think back to the two stages of creativity. When we are in the ideation stage, we shouldn’t be evaluating each other’s ideas, input, and possible solutions.

When we evaluate, judge, and criticize during the ideation stage, we inadvertently hamper creativity. One possible outcome of evaluating during ideation is creative suppression.[3]

When someone responds to someone else’s creative input with judgment or criticism, creative suppression can occur if the person who had the idea shuts down because of that judgment or criticism.

Imagine you’re at a meeting brainstorming ways to boost your sales numbers. You suggest hiring a new team member, but your colleague rolls their eyes and says that can’t happen since the numbers are already down.

Now, your colleague may be 100% correct. However, their comment might make you shut down for the rest of the meeting, which means your team won’t be getting any more possible solutions from you.

If your colleague had waited to evaluate the merits of your idea until after the brainstorming session, your team could have come up with more possible solutions to their current problem.

During the ideation stage, more is more. We want as many ideas as possible, so reserve the evaluation until there’s no more ideating left to do.

Another trick for better ideating is to “Yes And” each other’s ideas[4] In improvisation, there’s a principle known as “Yes And.” It means that one improviser should agree with the other’s idea for the scene and then add a new detail onto that reality.

Advertising

For example, if someone says, “I can’t hear over your loud music,” the other person needs to go along with that idea and then add onto it. They might say, “Sorry, I’ll turn it down, but I don’t think everyone else here at the club will appreciate it.”

Now the scene is getting interesting. We’re in a club, and the DJ is going to turn the music down. Playing “Yes And” with each other made the scene better by filling in details about who and where the improvisers are.

Yes Anding also works well during ideation sessions. Since we’ve already established that we shouldn’t be evaluating each other’s ideas yet, Yes Anding gives us something we can do. We can see the merits of each other’s ideas and try to build on them. This will make all of our possible solutions more fully realized than a simple laundry list.

5. Approach Problems With Playfulness

Approaching problem solving too seriously can exacerbate the problem. Sometimes we get too fixated on finding solutions and lose a sense of playfulness and fun.

It makes sense. When there are deadlines and people counting on us, we can try to force solutions, but stepping back and approaching problems from a more playful perspective can lead to more innovative solutions.

Think about how children approach problem solving. They don’t have the wealth of wisdom that decades on this planet give. Instead, they play around and try out imaginative and sometimes unpractical approaches.

That’s great for problem solving. Instead of limiting ourselves to how things have always been done, a sense of play and playfulness can lead us to truly innovative, out-of-the-box solutions.

6. Let the Unconscious Mind Roam

This may seem counterintuitive, but another technique to try when you become too fixated on a problem is to take a break to let the unconscious mind take over for a bit.

Advertising

Our conscious brain can only handle a limited amount of information at a time. Plus, it’s energetically exhausting to use our conscious brain for problem solving. Think about a time when you were studying for a test. It’s draining.[5]

But we’re in luck. There’s another part of our brain that isn’t draining and can integrate tons more information at a time—our unconscious.

This is why you come up with your best ideas in the shower or on your way to work or while you’re jogging. When you give your conscious brain a break, your unconscious has a chance to sift through mounds of information to arrive at solutions.

It’s how I write my articles. With my conscious brain, I think about which article I’m going to write. My problem is how to write it, so once I think carefully about the topic, I take a break. Then, the structure, sources, content, and sometimes phrasing happens in fits and starts while I’m not thinking about the article at all. It happens when I’m lying in bed, showering, and walking in the woods.

The key is to get in the habit of practicing this alternation between conscious and unconscious problem solving and to absolutely not force solutions. Sometimes, you just need to take a little break.

7. Be Candid

The last of the problem solving techniques happens during the evaluation stage. If we’re going to land on the best possible solution to our problems, we have to be able to openly and honestly evaluate ideas.

During the evaluating stage, criticism and feedback need to be delivered honestly and respectfully. If an idea doesn’t work, that needs to be made clear. The goal is that everyone should care about and challenge each other. This creates an environment where people take risks and collaborate because they trust that everyone has their best interest in mind and isn’t going to pull any punches.

Final Thoughts

In order to come up with the best solutions for problems, ideation and evaluation have to be two distinct steps in the creative process. Then, you should tap into some of the above techniques to get your ideas organized and your problems solved.

Hopefully, these seven problem solving techniques will help your problems be less…problematic.

More Tips for Problem Solving

Featured photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Steven Johnson: Emergence
[2] Dr. Dan Siegel: The whole-brain child
[3] American Psychological Association: Creative mortification
[4] Play Your Way Sane: And What?: Yes And
[5] Daniel Kahneman: Thinking, Fast and Slow

Read Next