What Are the Characteristics of Critical & Creative Thinking?

Using critical and creative thinking skills helps you solve a wide variety of problems.

You rely on your critical and creative thinking skills so often, you might not even be aware of using them, yet they are vital to growth and success at work and at home. Whenever you’re engaged in effective problem-solving, you’re using your creativity to generate possible solutions and your critical thinking to evaluate their usefulness.

1 Characteristics of Critical Thinking

At its core, critical thinking is an ongoing process of taking charge of your mind to improve the quality of your thinking and live a rational and reasonable life. According to the Critical Thinking website, human thinking is filled with biases, prejudices, mistakes in reasoning and unexamined social rules that should be examined for truth and validity. Components of a systematic examination include raising vital questions, considering alternative answers, avoiding simplistic explanations and recognizing the impact your actions have on others. Critical thinking lies in direct opposition to impulsive behavior.

2 Characteristics of Creative Thinking

Creative thinking is a close cousin to critical thinking in that it involves looking at things from a new perspective, coming up with several solutions to a problem and avoiding solutions that are overly simplistic. It differs from critical thinking in that it allows for improvisation, can involve wild ideas and benefits from a playful approach. A goal of creative thinking is to free your mind from customs and norms so you can approach a problem in an unusual or novel way. Creative thinking involves skills like associative thinking, brainstorming and originality.

3 Critical Thinking in the Workplace

In his article “Critical and Creative Thinking Skills,” Robert M. Sherfield asserts that critical thinking skills are essential to today’s workplace, which is less dependent on physical labor and more reliant on intelligence and thinking. Examples of critical thinking skills in use in the workplace include research, statistical analysis, using restraint and careful analysis in judging situations and co-workers, classifying and sequencing information, recognizing patterns, forecasting and making calculations.

4 Creative Thinking in the Workplace

Sherfield contends that creative thinking is as important to a successful workplace as critical thinking because it moves humanity forward. Effective creative thinkers demonstrate the courage needed to find new strategies, innovative techniques and unusual solutions and to put them into action. This approach promotes divergent thinking and stimulates curiosity. In a workplace, people often use creative thinking to solve problems, deal with crises, write ad copy, improve products and processes, and address any situation where a new solution is needed.

Suzanna Didier's work appears in online publications including the National Geographic website, SFGate and Local.com. She is an avid cook who lives on a hobby farm, direct-markets organic produce to local restaurants and has taught at the preschool, elementary and college levels. Didier holds a Master of Arts in education from the University of Oregon.