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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 July 29, 2020

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

Have you been thinking of how you can be a more strategic leader during these uncertain times? Has the pandemic thrown a wrench at all your carefully laid out plans and initiatives?

You’re not alone. The truth is, we all want some stability in our careers and teams during this disruptive pandemic.

However, this now requires a bit more effort than before and making the leap from merely surviving to thriving means buckling down to some serious strategic thinking and maintaining a determined mindset.

Is There a Way to Thrive Despite These Disruptions?

Essentially – yes, although you need to be willing to put in the work. Every leader wants to develop strategic thinking skills so that they can enhance overall team performance and boost their company’s success, but what exactly does it mean to be strategic in the context of the times we live in?

If you happen to be in a leadership position in your organization right now, you are most probably navigating precarious waters given the disruptions caused by the pandemic. There’s a lot more pressure than before because your actions and decisions will have a much greater impact these days not just on you, but also to the people who are part of your team.

Companies often bring me in to coach executives on strategic thinking and planning. And while pre-pandemic I would usually start by highlighting the advantages of strategic thinking, nowadays, I always begin these Zoom coaching sessions by driving home the point that this pandemic has now made strategic thinking not just an option but an absolute must.

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Assessing and making plans through the lens of a good strategy might require significant work at first. Nevertheless, you can take comfort in the fact that the rewards will far outweigh the effort, as you’ll soon see after following the 8 strategic steps I have outlined below.

8 Steps to Strategic Thinking

As events unfold during these strange times, you’re bound to feel wrong-footed every now and then. Being a leader during this pandemic means preparing for more change not just for you, but for your whole team as well.

As states and cities go through a cycle of lockdowns and reopening, employees will experience the full gamut of human emotions in dizzying speed, and you will often be called on to provide insight and stability to your team and workplace.

Strategic thinking is all about anticipation and preparation. Rather than expending your energy merely helping your company put out fires and survive, you can put the time to better use by charting out a solid plan that can protect and help you and your company thrive.

Take the following steps to build solid initiatives and roll out successful projects:

Step 1: Step Back, Then Set the Scope

One of the things that leaders get wrong during their first attempt at strategic thinking is expecting that it is just another item on a checklist. The truth is, you need to take a good, long look at the bigger picture before anything else. This means decisively prioritizing and stepping away from tasks that can be delegated to others. Free up your schedule so you can focus on this crucial task at hand.

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Then, proceed with setting the scope and the strategic goals of the project or initiative you plan to build or execute. Ask yourself the bigger question of why you need to embark on a particular project and when would be the right time to do so.

You need to set a timeline as well, anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. Keep in mind that your projections will deteriorate the further out you go as you make longer-term plans.

For this reason, add extra resources, flexibility, and resilience if you have a longer timeline. You should also be making the goals less specific if you’re charting it out for the longer term.

Step 2: Make a List of Experts

Make and keep a list of credible people who can contribute solid insight and feedback to your initiative. This could range from key stakeholders to industry experts, mentors, and even colleagues who previously planned and rolled out similar projects.

Reach out to the people on this list regularly while you work through the steps to bring diverse insight into your planning process. This way, you will be able to approach any problem from every angle.

Bringing key stakeholders into this initial process will also display your willingness to listen and empathize with their issues. In return, this will build trust and potentially pave the way for smoother buy-in down the line.

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Step 3: Anticipate the Future

After identifying your goals and gathering feedback, it’s time to consider what the future would look like if everything goes as you intuitively anticipate. Then, lay out the kind and amount of resources (money, time, social capital) that might be needed to keep this anticipated future running.

Step 4: Brainstorm on Potential Internal and External Problems

Next, think of how the future would look if you encountered unexpected problems internal and external to the business activity that seriously jeopardize your expected vision of the future. Write out what kind of potential problems you might encounter, including low-probability ones.

Assess the likelihood that you will run into each problem. To gauge, multiply the likelihood by the number of resources needed to address the problem. Try to convert the resources into money if possible so that you can have a single unit of measurement.

Then, think of what steps you can take to address these internal and external problems before they even happen. Write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Lastly, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different possible problems and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

Step 5: Identify Potential Opportunities, Internal and External

Imagine how your expected plan would look if unexpected opportunities came up. Most of these will be external but consider internal ones as well. Then, gauge the likelihood of each scenario and the number of resources you would need to take advantage of each opportunity. Convert the resources into money if possible.

Then, think of what steps you can take in advance to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Finally, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different unexpected opportunities and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

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Step 6: Check for Cognitive Biases

Check for potential cognitive biases that are relevant to you personally or to the organization as a whole, and adjust the resources and plans to address such errors.[1] Make sure to at least check for loss aversion, status quo bias, confirmation bias, attentional bias, overconfidence, optimism bias, pessimism bias, and halo and horns effects.

Step 7: Account for Unknown Unknowns (Black Swans)

To have a more effective strategy, account for black swans as well. These are unknown unknowns -unpredictable events that have potentially severe consequences.

To account for these black swans, add 40 percent to the resources you anticipate. Also, consider ways to make your plans more flexible and secure than you intuitively feel is needed.

Step 8: Communicate and Take the Next Steps

Communicate the plan to your stakeholders, and give them a heads up about the additional resources needed. Then, take the next steps to address the unanticipated problems and take advantage of the opportunities you identified by improving your plans, as well as allocating and reserving resources.

Finally, take note that there will be cases when you’ll need to go back and forth these steps to make improvements, (a fix here, an improvement there) so be comfortable with revisiting your strategy and reaching out to your list of experts.

Conclusion

A great way to deal with feelings of uncertainty during this pandemic is to anticipate obstacles with a good plan – and a sure road to that is practicing strategic thinking.

In the coming months and years, you’ll need to continue navigating uncharted territory so that you can lead your team to safe waters. Regularly doing these 8 steps to strategic thinking will ensure that you can prepare for and adapt  to the coming changes with increasing clarity, perspective, and efficiency.[2]

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Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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