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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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Vladimir Zivanovic

CMO at MyCity-Web

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Published on October 5, 2020

What Are Creative Problem Solving Skills (And How To Improve Yours)

What Are Creative Problem Solving Skills (And How To Improve Yours)

I think we’re all familiar with that feeling of needing to solve a problem, trying way too hard, getting frustrated, and then throwing our hands up in defeat. For example, when my editor assigned me this topic, the structure and concept of the piece weren’t instantly clear to me. I had to problem-solve to figure out how to even begin. But problem-solving isn’t quite so linear. It’s not just a matter of brute force. You can’t just muscle your way through. This is where creative problem solving comes in.

Creative problem solving is about using what we know about how the brain works to come up with outside-the-box solutions to creative problems. Sure, we can do things the same way we’ve always done them. Or we can try creative problem solving, which means we spend time ideating (a.k.a. brainstorming), collaborating, ruminating, and refining to land on better and more novel solutions than we could have if we tried to force or rush a solution.

Stages of Creative Problem Solving

There’s no right or wrong way to try creative problem solving, but there are some stages that can help you integrate it into your creative process. Here are the 4 stages of creative problem solving

1. Ideating/Brainstorming

If we’re using creative problem solving, we’re not just going with the first idea that pops into our heads. Brainstorming is crucial to come up with more novel solutions.

One of the most important things to keep in mind during brainstorming is that this is not the time to evaluate or judge ideas. The goal of ideating is to come up with as many ideas as possible.

There’s an improvisation rule called “Yes, And” or the rule of agreement that can help you get the most out of your brainstorming sessions.[1] The idea is simple. If you’re brainstorming in a group and someone tells you an idea, you need to go along with that idea. That’s the “Yes” part of “Yes, And.” Then, you can take it a step further by trying to add to that person’s idea.

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Let’s say you and your team are trying to figure out how to rebrand your shoe company. Your colleague says you could use a mascot. If you’re using improv’s “Yes, And” rule, you might agree and say that the mascot could be a shoe or a sock or a lonely sock looking for a shoe.

During the ideation stage, no one should be worried about which ideas are good and which are bad. Everyone is trying to come up with as many ideas as possible, and everyone should be trying to make the most of everyone else’s ideas.

“Yes, And” can also work if you’re creative problem solving alone. Instead of discarding ideas, you should be saying yes to your ideas, writing them all down, and trying to make all of them as workable as possible. But before you get too far in your creative process, it’s important to run your ideas by someone else.

2. Collaboration

I know sometimes you don’t want to share your ideas with other people. Maybe you’re self-conscious or you just don’t think that your idea is ready for prime time. However, it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and let other people join your creative process if you want to reach the best possible creative solution.

When we’re working in a team, it’s important to not judge each other’s ideas until we’re safely in the final stage of the creative problem-solving process. That means no critiques, no evaluations, and no snarky comments. Not yet, at least.

The reason to hold off on evaluating ideas at this stage is that some people tend to shut down if their ideas are judged too early. There’s a concept called creative suppression that occurs when people stop a creative pursuit temporarily due to feeling judged, shamed, or embarrassed.[2] Even worse, creative mortification is when judgment, shame, or embarrassment makes you quit your creative pursuit altogether.

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When you’re collaborating with others while creative problem solving, you don’t want to shut anyone down. The more people who are actively engaged in the creative process the better.

In improv, there’s something called “group mind.” The basic idea is that a group can come up with a better solution than any single individual. It makes sense since each person in the group enters the creative process with their own strengths, knowledge, background, experience, and ideas. That means that when the group is working harmoniously, the best contributions of each individual will be reflected in the team’s solution, making that solution far better than what any individual could have come up on their own.

So, find someone you trust and lay the ground rules for your collaboration. Tell each other that you won’t be judging each other’s work just yet to bring out the best and make it as creative and effective as possible.

3. Pause

It can seem counterintuitive to pause during the creative process. But to tap into the creative unconscious parts of your brain, you need to stop forcing it and let your mind wander.

The part of your brain that you’re using to understand this article right now is not necessarily the part that’s going to come up with the most novel solution to your problem. To start using your creative unconscious brain, you need to take a break.

Have you ever had that experience of struggling with a problem and then effortlessly figuring it out while you were showering or walking the dog? That’s your unconscious brain doing the heavy lifting.

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This part of the brain can’t be forced into creative problem solving, so stop consciously obsessing about your problem for a while. Take a walk. Go for a drive. Let your mind wander. Dream. This gives your unconscious mind a chance to sort information and come up with some truly novel solutions.

The bonus to letting your unconscious take over is that it’s effortless. Conscious thought requires you to burn lots of energy, while unconscious doesn’t. So, stop trying so hard and let ideas come to you.

4. Refine

At some point, you’re going to have to start evaluating, eliminating, and refining your ideas to get to the best solution. But if you’ve brainstormed, collaborated, and ruminated enough, you should have plenty of material to work with.

An Example of Creative Problem Solving

I think it’s helpful to walk through an example of creative problem-solving in action. Let’s go back to the example of me writing this article.

First, I was presented with the problem, so I started brainstorming and “Yes, And”-ing myself. I thought about everything I already know about creative problem solving and did some preliminary research, but I still didn’t have a structure or theme to tie my ideas together.

Once the problem was marinating in my mind, I started talking to people. I talked to an old friend about my initial ideas about the article, but I still didn’t have any words on the page just yet.

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Then, one morning, the article seemed to come fully formed while I was showering. I could see which examples would work best and how to structure the article. So, I sat down to write and refine the ideas. During the refining stage, I swung back to the collaboration stage when my editor further refined and improved my ideas.

It’s important to remember that these four stages of creative problem solving aren’t linear. They’re circular. After I refine an idea, I can go back to brainstorming, collaborating, and pausing as needed to develop and improve that idea.

Bottom Line

Creative problem solving is, first and foremost, creative. You have to give yourself time and space to be able to reflect and ruminate. It’s also important to collaborate as necessary to improve your ideas with the help of other people.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you can’t force creative problem-solving. Forcing it only leads to frustration and failure, so give yourself some time and a team you trust to come up with the best possible solution to your problem.

More About Creative Problem Solving

Featured photo credit: Per Lööv via unsplash.com

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