Logical Thinking: Are You Sure That’s Reasonable?

logical thinkingLogical thinking is crucial for practically every aspect of business operation.  While some business relationships and decisions should definitely not be decided by your emotions, logical thinking is overall one of the most important traits for a successful businessperson.

In many cases, you do not want to be distracted by your own personal thoughts and feelings about an issue, as individuals often hold a bias. You need to make decisions that will benefit many people, and lend to the success of products and future endeavors.  Critical thinking is a must, and you need to be able to follow a logical progression of events if you expect to manage a successful project.

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So how can we enhance our logical thinking abilities, become detail-oriented, and make better decisions?  Let’s take a look at a few tips that will help you think more clearly.

A Three-Part Strategy for Logical Thinking

Entrepreneur.com recently published this three-part strategy for thinking about a situation reasonably and practically:

  1. Identify your purpose – What are you trying to achieve here?  If you do not have a clear outline of this, can you expect to be successful?  This purpose should inform the entire project and provide a guideline for the planning process.  Be as specific as you need to be to answer any concerns about the plan.
  2. Examine your biases – This step is often the most difficult, in a business situation or not.  To think logically, you must think from as many different (but relevant) perspectives as possible.  A product built from only one point of view can seem flat and somewhat useless.  When it comes to business, you must think from the perspectives of customers, clients, co-workers, supervisors, business relations, and anyone else you find to be involved.

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  1. Consider the implications of your choices – You will find yourself several different paths you can choose from.  Each has its own challenges and consequences, so map out each individual path thoroughly so you will know what you are up against. Taking as many different perspectives as you can, as mentioned above, will help you make more logical deicisons. Only by understanding your options and the effects of each choice can you make well-informed business decisions.

Being Aware of Logical Fallacies

Logical fallacies are indications of bad reasoning.  They do not provide real information, and relying on them will result in bad decision making.  It’s very important to be aware of these and to point them out when they occur, so let’s look at five of the most common and easy-to-commit logical fallacies:

  1. Argument from authority – “The boss says so, so it must be true.”  We all know that nobody is infallible, yet we sometimes take a person’s word on something without good evidence for believing it.

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  1. Hasty Generalization – “It didn’t work yesterday, so it will never work.”  Sometimes we make premature conclusions before we have good reason to, so be sure to have good evidence for your generalizations.
  2. False Dichotomy –  “Either we have to build it or we have to buy it.”  It can be very tempting to reduce a complex problem down to a simple either/or situation, but this inevitably leaves out many viable options.  For this example, you can build part of it and buy part of it.
  3. Incorrect Association – “Sales went up over summer.  Summer must be good for sales.”  Just because two things happened together does not mean that they are causally connected at all. Think of a person sneezing at the same time as another person says ‘dog.’  Obviously, the word ‘dog’ had nothing to do with the sneeze and this is easy to see.
  4. Ad Hominem – “Jenny created this program, so I know I’ll hate it.”  An ad hominem argument attacks the person who puts forth an idea rather than criticizing the idea itself.

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It is important to understand both logical thinking principles as well as the possible fallacious arguments that we are all prone to accidentally making.  These are two basic ways to increase your logical thinking powers and quickly begin making better business decisions.