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The entire personal development process is dependent on your awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, and how to go forward

to improve your skills. Your own self-awareness will be supported by the feedback that you receive from others. You need to know how to make the most of feedback - an important part of your degree but also a crucial life skill.

The main areas of self-awareness and critical evaluation that need to be examined and improved are:

Knowing your strong points Knowing your weak points, or gaps in your experience Knowing how to address your weaknesses, and to capitalize on your strengths Knowing how to solicit, receive and use feedback

Self-awareness is not just about weak points. It is just as much about identifying your strengths and making sure that you use these effectively. You should put just as much effort into making sure that you enhance your strong points as you should in addressing weaker areas.

You will be encouraged to be reflective throughout your academic study. In particular, you should make the most of all of the feedback that you receive, not just from your tutors as part of the formal assessment process but also from your fellow students and others. You will also have the opportunity to give feedback to others - do so sensitively and constructively, but don't shy away from making your point clearly.

As with other skill sets, the 'formal' evaluation and reflection that you do as part of your degree is only a part of your personal development agenda. Many of your strengths and weaknesses will lie outside the confines of your degree. More importantly, you will find that you can bring lessons learned outside Anglia Ruskin to strengthen your degree studies, and probably vice versa.

There are several approaches to self-awareness and reflection, some of which are more concerned with project management than individuals. One of the 'old faithfuls' is given the acronym S.W.O.T, for:

Strengths Weaknesses Opportunties Threats

Problem solving skill

Problem solving and critical thinking are essential skills both for life and for academic study. University study has always placed equal emphasis on analysis and knowledge. As factual information becomes more widely available, development of analytical skills becomes a greater priority. Problem solving is a key analytical skill, and is demonstrated by:

Ability to identify problems Ability to deal with change Flexibility and adaptability Initiative and resourcefulness

Depending on the type of degree that you are taking, the range and types of problems that you will be given will vary. You will also find that you have extensive experience of problem solving outside your degree - we are all faced by situations where we need to respond to problems or changes.

Employers expect graduates to be good problem solvers, and this is one of the reasons that they employ graduates even where their degree subject does not match the job. Philosophy is a good example. There are not many career philosophers around, but philosophy graduates are very 'employable' because of their analytical skills. In their booklet on employment opportunities for philosophy graduates, the Higher Education Academy writes a strong case for the value of problem solving:

"Philosophy graduates are highly employable because philosophy teaches you how to think for yourself, analyse and communicate ideas in a clear, rational and well thought out way .... Whereas the knowledge learnt in other disciplines may be superseded by future discoveries .... the ability to think critically does not become devalued over time ..... In an increasingly global economy, the skills of vision, creativity and analytical power ... will be at premium" Read the full text (including the gaps!) at http://prs.heacademy.ac.uk/publications/emp_guide_for_web.pdf
Commiunication skill

Communication skills are very important in all aspects of our lives. However talented you are, people aren't going to realise unless you can tell them effectively. These skills form a key part of the transferable skills that you will be developing during your degree - through essay writing and seminar presentations, for instance. You are also likely to find yourself in other situations where you develop communication skills further, perhaps through work or leisure activities.

Communication breaks down into four natural sub-divisions:

Spoken communication Written communication Performance and public speaking Graphic or design skills

Like so many life skills, communication requires both competence and confidence. Some people are natural communicators, but don't worry if that doesn't describe you! There are several things that you can do to build up your communication skills, and when you know that you are doing things well the confidence will come naturally.

You will have several opportunities to enhance your communication skills as part of your degree studies, and you will find that these are identified in module guides. Spotting the other occasions and opportunities may be less easy. Here are some possibilities:

Dealing with customers as part of a part-time job Taking part in an amateur dramatics production Writing for a University or local magazine or newsletter Setting up your own blog or social space Acting as a student ambassador in Freshers' Week Acting as a student representative (they will even train you!)

Interpersonal skill What Does Interpersonal Skills Mean? The skills used by a person to properly interact with others. In the business domain, the term generally refers to an employee's ability to get along with others while getting the job done. Interpersonal skills include everything from communication and listening skills to attitude and deportment. Good interpersonal skills are a prerequisite for many positions in an organization. Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/interpersonal-skills.asp#ixzz1YaNk9ME3 An interpersonal list of skills is highly subjective. Breaking down the interpersonal process uncovers distinct skills needed to effectively communicate and develop successful interpersonal relationships. We may not use them consistently, but here is my top 10 list of interpersonal skills needed to create value from your interpersonal experiences. 1. Look: People give us a wealth of information as we engage in an interpersonal encounter. Looking for all the information requires skill. Eyes, hair, facial expressions, dress, and body language give us important information about an individual. Developing the skills to consistently look for this information is valuable as you enter the communication process . 2. Listen: It seems simple, but few of us do it well. Listening skills provide critical information. Hearing an individual's message completely is critical. Missing one small piece may change your perception of the message completely. As we listen to the message, we are offered even more information about an individual. Voice inflections, tone, and volume provide additional information required for effective interpersonal communication . 3. Ask: Asking open ended questions must be on this list of skills. Utilizing every opportunity to extract even more information about an individual helps you identify potential value quickly. The more efficient you become at extracting information, the less time it takes you to effectively communicate and identify potential value in a relationship. Utilizing this skill creates efficiency in your interpersonal experiences. 4. Learn: Developing the first three skills creates the need for another. Effectively looking, listening, and asking will generate a large amount of information in a short period of time. Processing the information quickly and learning efficiently from it is not easy. Learning skills allow you to use all of the information available to you. 5. Understand:

Once the information gathered is processed and learned. That information must be applied to the individual you are engaged with. Generating a complete understanding of the individual will create a more efficient interpersonal process. Understanding the individual's mood, emotional state, feelings, and demeanor will allow you to present your message effectively to the individual's current state. Think of it as using the list of skills above to create a "snap shot" if the individual during your interpersonal experience. 6. Acknowledge: Understanding the individual is critical to acknowledge their needs. Acknowledging a person's needs are an important part of the interpersonal communication process. It is also necessary to develop successful interpersonal relationships. We all have needs; using your skills to acknowledge other's needs make you more effective in your interpersonal experiences. 7. Identify: Identifying value is critical to your interpersonal experiences. Once the information is gathered, processed, and needs acknowledged, you can begin to see where you can provide value. You can also now see if there is opportunity for the individual to bring value to you. Using your skills to identify value allows you to maneuver through the communication process effectively as you know what is valuable to you and to the individual engaged with. It also enables you to see the potential opportunity in relationships. 8. Commit: Commitment is an important interpersonal skill. Utilizing your interpersonal skills requires time and effort. Only by making a commitment to effective interpersonal communication will you achieve results. An individual may have many relationships. Only by committing to develop your interpersonal relations will you receive the value you have identified. Commitment is value to all of us. When you give it, you will receive value from your interpersonal experiences. 9. Contribute: To receive value, you must contribute. Successful relationships are mutually beneficial. Identifying potential value allows you to spend your time and efforts in the relationships you feel will bring the most value. Only by contributing value to your relationships will you see long term success. Relationships quickly dissipate if only one party is contributing. The communication process will quickly break down if all individuals are not actively contributing to the process. 10. Follow Up: Seems simple, but this is hard to find. The ability to actually do what you say you are going to do a valuable skill. If you say it, do it! It seems so simple, but it is extremely hard to find these days. Something so simple that builds so much trust in a relationship. Following up adds value to the communication process. If an individual trusts you, they will listen to you as they know you will do what you are communicating.

Look at your own interpersonal experiences. Look at this interpersonal list of skills. Analyze your communication breakdowns, types of interpersonal conflict , and types of interpersonal relationships you feel are not valuable. If you do, I'll bet something on this list is missing. Use it to be conscious of your interpersonal skills and create value! Understanding your interpersonal skills will help you everywhere in your life from frienships to a securing a job. Use this list for phone interview tips as you tackle the difficult questions in the interview process. Interpersonal Skills Interpersonal skills are all the behaviors and feelings that exist within all of us that influence our interactions with others. Whether we are shy or bold, quiet or passive, domineering or cooperative are all different examples of characteristics of interpersonal skills. How do we develop our interpersonal skills? We dont really at least not consciously. These skills are learned from watching our parents, the television and our peers. Children imitate in an attempt to learn. Most of what we believe to be true about ourselves and the world around us, we do not stop and examine. It is only when problems arise that we are given a glimpse into our interpersonal skills and the potential for change that exists. Healthy interpersonal skills reduce stress, reduce conflict, improve communication, enhance intimacy, increase understanding, and promote joy. Interpersonal Skills Assessment Determine the personal relevance of each statement to how you see yourself right now. How Often do You...

seek approval and affirmation from others, and I am afraid of criticism. guess at what normal behavior is, and I usually feel as if I am different from other people. isolate myself from and am afraid of people in authority roles. am not able to appreciate my own accomplishments and good deeds. tend to have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end. get frightened or stressed when I am in the company of an angry person. order to avoid a conflict, I find it easier to lie than tell the truth. have judged myself harshly. I am my own worst critic, and I am harder on myself than I am on others. feel that I am being taken advantage of by individuals and society in general; I often feel victimized. take myself very seriously, and I view all of relationships just as seriously. have problems developing and maintaining intimate relationships. feel guilty when I stand up for myself or take care of my needs first, instead of giving in or taking care of others needs first. feel responsible for others and find it easier to have concern for others that for myself. become impulsive and act too quickly, before considering other actions or possible consequences. have difficulty in being able to feel or to express feelings; I feel out of touch with my feelings.

Interpersonal skills are the skills that a person uses to interact with other people. Interpersonal skills are sometimes also referred to as people skills or communication skills.[1] Interpersonal skills involve using skills such as active listening[2] and tone of voice, they include delegation and leadership. It is how well you communicate with someone and how well you behave or carry yourself. Also they help people further their careers. Interpersonal skills refer to mental and communicative algorithms applied during social communications and interaction to reach certain effects or results.[clarification needed] The term "interpersonal skills" is used often in business contexts to refer to the measure of a person's ability to operate within business organizations through social communication and interactions. Interpersonal skills are how people relate to one another. As an illustration, it is generally understood that communicating respect for other people or professionals within will enable one to reduce conflict and increase participation or assistance in obtaining information or completing tasks. For instance, to interrupt someone who is currently preoccupied with the task of obtaining information needed immediately, it is recommended that a professional use a deferential approach with language such as, "Excuse me, are you busy? I have an urgent matter to discuss with you if you have the time at the moment." This allows the receiving professional to make their own judgment regarding the importance of their current task versus entering into a discussion with their colleague. While it is generally understood that interrupting someone with an "urgent" request will often take priority, allowing the receiver of the message to judge independently the request and agree to further interaction will likely result in a higher quality interaction. Following these kinds of heuristics to achieve better professional results generally results in a professional being ranked as one with 'good interpersonal skills.' Often these evaluations occur in formal and informal settings. Having positive interpersonal skills increases the productivity in the organization since the number of conflicts is reduced. In informal situations, it allows communication to be easy and comfortable. People with good interpersonal skills can generally control the feelings that emerge in difficult situations and respond appropriately, instead of being overwhelmed by emotion.

Emphathy skill

Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another sapient or semi-sapient being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion. The English word was coined in 1909 by E.B. Titchener as an attempt to translate the German word "Einfhlungsvermgen", a new phenomenon explored at the end of 19th century mainly by Theodor Lipps. It was later re-translated (Germanized) into the German language into "Empathie" and still in use there.[1] Showing Empathy To show empathy is to identify with another's feelings. It is to emotionally put yourself in the place of another. The ability to empathize is directly dependent on your ability to feel

your own feelings and identify them. If you have never felt a certain feeling, it will be hard for you to understand how another person is feeling. This holds equally true for pleasure and pain. If, for example, you have never put your hand in a flame, you will not know the pain of fire. If you have not experienced sexual passion, you will not understand its power. Similarly, if you have never felt rebellious or defiant, you will not understand those feelings. Reading about a feeling and intellectually knowing about it is very different than actually experiencing it for yourself. Among those with an equal level of innate emotional intelligence, the person who has actually experienced the widest range and variety of feelings -- the great depths of depression and the heights of fulfillment, for example, -- is the one who is most able to empathize with the greatest number of people from all walks of life. On the other hand, when we say that someone "can't relate" to other people, it is likely because they haven't experienced, acknowledged or accepted many feelings of their own. Once you have felt discriminated against, for example, it is much easier to relate with someone else who has been discriminated against. Our innate emotional intelligence gives us the ability to quickly recall those instances and form associations when we encounter discrimination again. We then can use the "reliving" of those emotions to guide our thinking and actions. This is one of the ways nature slowly evolves towards a higher level of survival. In other words, over time, awareness of our own feelings may lead us to treat others in a more pro-survival way. For this process to work, the first step is that we must be able to experience our own emotions. This means we must be open to them and not distract ourselves from them or try to numb ourselves from our feelings through drugs, alcohol, etc. Next, we need to become aware of what we are actually feeling -- to acknowledge, identify, and accept our feelings. Only then can we empathize with others. That is one reason it is important to work on your own emotional awareness and sensitivity-- in other words, to be "in touch with" your feelings. -- and to help children stay in touch with their feelings.

Awareness & Acknowledgment Empathy begins with awareness of another person's feelings. It would be easier to be aware of other people's emotions if they would simply tell us how they felt. But since most people do not, we must resort to asking questions, reading between the lines, guessing, and trying to interpret non-verbal cues. Emotionally expressive people are easiest to read because their eyes and faces are constantly letting us know how they are feeling.

Once we have figured out how another person feels, we show empathy by acknowledging the emotion. We may say, for example, - I can see you are really uncomfortable about this. - I can understand why you would be upset. We can also show empathy through a simple sign of affection such as hug or a tender touch. Though empathy is usually used in reference to sensing someone else's painful feelings, it can also apply to someone's positive feelings of success, accomplishment, pride, achievement etc. In this case a "high five" would also be a sign of empathy.

Empathy and Sensitivity In one of the Mayer et al studies, many variables were measured. Of these many variables, sensitivity was found to have the highest correlation to emotional intelligence as they define and measure it. (Selecting a Measure of Emotional Intelligence) It can be assumed that empathy and sensitivity are also significantly correlated. By definition sensitive people are more likely to notice someone else's feelings and to feel something themselves. But even those who are not naturally sensitive, or do not have a high natural level of EI, can take steps to show more sensitivity to the feelings of others. A basic guideline for showing sensitivity to someone is to not invalidate their feelings by belittling, diminishing, rejecting, judging, or ignoring them. Even just a simple acknowledgment without any real empathy is much better than totally ignoring someone's feeling. (See section on invalidation) Sensitivity also means being receptive to others' cues, particularly the non-verbal ones such as facial expressions. This is similar to a highly sensitive radio antenna which can pick up faint signals. The more information you are able to receive, the more you can help them and yourself. By the way, a person can never actually be "too sensitive" any more than someone can be too intelligent. It is only a question of how they use the information their extra sensitivity is giving them.

Empathy, Understanding and Compassion Empathy is closely related to compassion, but empathy both precedes compassion and is a pre-requisite for compassion. When we feel empathy for someone we are getting emotional information about them and their situation. By collecting information about other people's feelings, you get to know them better. As you get to know others on an emotional level, you are likely to see similarities between your feelings and theirs, and between your basic emotional needs and theirs. When you realize that someone else's

basic emotional needs are similar to yours, you are more able to identify with them, relate to them and empathize with them. All humans share similar emotional needs. (See human emotional needs) The wide variety among our needs is mostly a difference in degree, rather than in type. For example, we all need to feel some degree of freedom, but one person may need more freedom than another. Compassion can be defined as a combination of empathy and understanding. Greater empathy gives you greater information, and the more information you have on something, the more likely you are to understand it. Higher emotional intelligence makes possible a greater capacity for such understanding. Thus, the logical sequence is as follows: Higher emotional sensitivity and awareness leads to higher levels of empathy. This leads to higher levels of understanding which then leads to higher levels of compassion. Haim Ginott wrote that "It takes time and wisdom to realize that the personal parallels the universal and what pains one man pains mankind." Now we might add that it also takes highly developed emotional intelligence.

Empathy and Conscience Those who are not in touch with their own feelings are not likely to have a sense of conscience. They may feel no remorse, no guilt for causing harm to others. As could be expected, studies show that such people are unlikely to respond to rehabilitation. One thing which could easily cause a person to lose touch with his own feelings and to lose his sense natural sense of conscience is an extremely painful childhood and adolescence. Such people have experienced so much pain that they shut themselves from it. This pain may have come from physical, sexual or emotional abuse. The end result though is similar. They do not experience their own pain, so they have no compassion for the pain of another. Nor do they have any empathy. They are also likely to be extremely needy. In other words they have many, and deep, unmet emotional needs.. As adults, they will have developed elaborate defense mechanisms in an attempt to block the pain coming from both these unmet needs and from the guilt they would feel if they allowed themselves to feel. As Freud helped us see, attempts to defend our brains from psychological pain usually involve the cognitive parts of the brain. For example, common defenses are rationalization, justification, denial, intellectualization, moralizing, preaching, proselytizing, self-righteousness, projection, suppression, etc.

In the absence of a conscience, behavior must be controlled by fear, threats and punishment, or by separation from society. This comes at tremendous social cost, and evidently is ineffective, given the overcrowded prisons and rising fines. It seems that laws are really only needed when conscience has failed. We might say that the more laws a society needs, the less emotionally intelligent.

Too Much Empathy? In one of their 1990 publications Salovey and Mayer hypothesized that there was a positive relationship between empathy and emotional intelligence. Since then their studies have indeed shown this to be the case, (using their test which tries to measure IE). (See Emotional intelligence meets traditional standards for an intelligence.) Still, their definition of EI and their detailed chart of its many aspects does not mention empathy -something which is a bit puzzling. Upon reflection though, it does seem possible that one could feel too much empathy, to the point where they become overly-affected by another person's moods, for example, in an unhealthy co-dependent relationship. Therefore, it seems to make sense that while our innate emotional sensitivity gives us the ability to feel empathy, our emotional intelligence helps us decide what to do when we feel empathy and what to do when someone else's moods are affecting us too much. Even though it may be possible to sometimes feel too much empathy, many people, including the new President of the USA, Barack Obama, believe empathy is something we could use more of in society. In fact it is likely that our human ability to empathize is one of the main ways our emotions contribute to the survival of the species.
Empathy: The power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another persons feelings*

Learning empathy requires that you understands and feels someone elses pain. A little selfexamination is a good start. Self-awareness will help one determine how to interact with others. For instance, if a friend is undergoing divorce problems and you are against divorce, it would be good to set aside biases in order to reach out to your friend effectively. An aspect of selfawareness is knowing one's personal biases, values, desires and concerns. Read more at Suite101: Is Empathy a Learned Skill?: How to Develop Empathy | Suite101.com http://gwendolyncuizon.suite101.com/is-empathy-a-learned-skill-a94399#ixzz1YaRpqsUq Be sincere. This means to really care about what happens to the other person. This doesnt mean that you have to approve of everything they do or even have to force yourself to like them, you just have to sincerely accept them as fellow humans who are struggling just like you. If you show this genuineness, people could sense it and respond accordingly. People will assume that you truly care and will accept your efforts.

Always remember that no matter how rude or irritating the other person is, be grateful that you are not in their shoes. It is always worse to be the one beset by problems. That is why you need to be empathetic to others who are less fortunate than you or who are facing personal crises. Understand that they are doing the best they can given the circumstances. Understand their fears and coping skills. Be helpful and learn to listen. Let the person know you are actually giving them extra attention. Encourage the person to voice their feelings. It is not enough to say youll do fine but tell them you seem upset. This will help the person identify his feelings at that moment and cope in the process. Other important ways to learn empathy would be to deepen your understanding of the intention of the other person. Respond to challenging situations without losing connection with others. Develop ease in being present to another person's pain without a desire to judge, blame or fix. Learn to express your own feelings and needs without sacrificing the integrity of your position and remaining honest.

Read more at Suite101: Is Empathy a Learned Skill?: How to Develop Empathy | Suite101.com http://gwendolyncuizon.suite101.com/is-empathy-a-learned-skill-a94399#ixzz1YaRvDaYS
Critical thinking

Critical thinking
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Critical thinking, in general, refers to higher-order thinking that questions assumptions. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is true, false, or sometimes true and sometimes false, or partly true and partly false. The concept is somewhat contested within the field of education due to the multiple possible meanings.[1] The origins of critical thinking can be traced in Western thought to the Socratic method of Ancient Greece and in the East, to the Buddhist Abhidharma. Critical thinking is an important component of most professions. It is a part of the education process and is increasingly significant as students progress through university to graduate education.

Critical thinking has been described as reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do.[2] It has also been described as "thinking about thinking."[3] It has been described in more detail as "the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action"[4] More recently, critical thinking has been described as "the process of purposeful, self-regulatory judgment, which uses reasoned consideration to evidence, context,

conceptualizations, methods, and criteria."[5] Within the critical social theory philosophical frame, critical thinking is commonly understood to involve commitment to the social and political practice of participatory democracy, willingness to imagine or remain open to considering alternative perspectives, willingness to integrate new or revised perspectives into our ways of thinking and acting, and willingness to foster criticality in others.[6]

[edit] History and etymology

The critical thinking philosophical frame traces its roots in analytic philosophy and pragmatist constructivism, as well as the Buddhist Teaching -- kalamasutta and abhidhamma, and the Greek Socratic tradition that dates back over 2,500 years in which probing questions were used to determine whether claims to knowledge based on authority could be rationally justified with clarity and logical consistency. The one sense of the term critical means crucial or related to core criteria and derives from the ancient Greek kriterion, which means standards; a second sense derives from kriticos, which means discerning judgment.[7] The movement represented a pragmatic response to expectations and demands for the kind of thinking required of the modern workforce.[8] The critical-theory philosophical frame has its roots to the Frankfurt School of Critical Social Theory that attempted to amend Marxist theory for applicability in 20th-century Germany. Critical thinking within this philosophical frame was introduced by Jurgen Habermas in the 1970

[edit] Meaning
Critical thinking clarifies goals, examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence, accomplishes actions, and assesses conclusions. "Critical" as used in the expression "critical thinking" connotes the importance or centrality of the thinking to an issue, question or problem of concern. "Critical" in this context does not mean "disapproval" or "negative." There are many positive and useful uses of critical thinking, for example formulating a workable solution to a complex personal problem, deliberating as a group about what course of action to take, or analyzing the assumptions and the quality of the methods used in scientifically arriving at a reasonable level of confidence about a given hypothesis. Using strong critical thinking we might evaluate an argument, for example, as worthy of acceptance because it is valid and based on true premises. Upon reflection, a speaker may be evaluated as a credible source of knowledge on a given topic. Critical thinking can occur whenever one judges, decides, or solves a problem; in general, whenever one must figure out what to believe or what to do, and do so in a reasonable and reflective way. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening can all be done critically or uncritically. Critical thinking is crucial to becoming a close reader and a substantive writer. Expressed in most general terms, critical thinking is "a way of taking up the problems of life."[9] "Fluid Intelligence" directly correlates with critical thinking skills. You are able to determine patterns, make connections and solve new problems.

[edit] Skills
The list of core critical thinking skills includes observation, interpretation, analysis, inference, evaluation, explanation, and meta-cognition. There is a reasonable level of consensus among experts that an individual or group engaged in strong critical thinking gives due consideration to:

Evidence through observation Context Relevant criteria for making the judgment well Applicable methods or techniques for forming the judgment Applicable theoretical constructs for understanding the problem and the question at hand

In addition to possessing strong critical-thinking skills, one must be disposed to engage problems and decisions using those skills. Critical thinking employs not only logic but broad intellectual criteria such as clarity, credibility, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, significance, and fairness.[10]

[edit] Creativity
In many curriculum documents, a distinction is made between 'critical' and 'creative' thinking. Thus, teachers are encouraged or required to develop their students' 'critical and creative thinking' as if these are two separate outcomes. However, this distinction fails to acknowledge the central skill of critical thinking which is to consider the significance of claims (historical claims, statistical claims, evidential claims, predictions, recommendations, principles, and so on). In doing this, we need to consider questions such as 'what explanations are there for this?', 'what else do we need to know?' and 'what assumptions do we need to make in order to draw inferences?'. Such questions involve significant creative thinking. Creative thinking Creative thinking skills use very different approaches to critical thinking skills. They involve a much more relaxed, open, playful approach. This can require some risk-taking. Creative thinking skills involve such approaches as:

Looking for many possible answers rather than one. Allowing yourself to make wild and crazy suggestions as well as those that seem sensible. Not judging ideas early in the process - treat all ideas as if they may contain the seeds of something potentially useful. Allowing yourself to doodle, daydream or play with a theory or suggestion. Being aware that these approaches necessarily involve making lots of suggestions that are unworkable and may sound silly. Making mistakes. Learning from what has not worked as well as what did.

In this section, you can learn more about the processes and what creative thinking really involves:

A state of mind Creativity and emotions Creative thinking techniques Combine analytical and creative thinking skills

A state of mind

Creative thinking skills are as much about attitude and self-confidence as about talent. Creativity is often less ordered, structured and predictable. As you are not looking for 'one' answer, you are likely to come up with lots of suggestions that are not 'right'. This can be difficult if you are more used to analytical and logical approaches. It can also be experienced as 'risky' as the prospect of making a mistake or not coming up with an answer is more likely.
^top^ Creativity and emotions

Strong emotional self-management is often needed in order to allow creative thinking states to emerge. It is important to be able to cope with risk, confusion, disorder and feeling that you are not progressing quickly.
^top^ Creative thinking techniques

There is no limit to ways there are of thinking creatively. Some techniques you can begin with are:

Brainstorm ideas on one topic onto a large piece of paper: don't edit these. Just write them down. Allowing yourself to play with an idea whilst you go for a walk. Draw or paint a theory on paper. Ask the same question at least twenty times and give a different answer each time. Combine some of the features of two different objects or ideas to see if you can create several more. Change your routine. Do things a different way. Walk a different route to college. Let your mind be influenced by new stimuli such as music you do not usually listen to. Be open to ideas when they are still new: look for ways of making things work and pushing the idea to its limits. Ask questions such as 'what if.?' Or 'supposing.?'.

^top^ Combine analytical and creative thinking skills

Many important breakthroughs in science and innovation have resulted from:

Focusing on a subject in a logical, analytical way for some time, thinking through possible solutions. Daydreaming or distracting the mind, but holding the same problem lightly 'at the back of the mind'. The answer has often emerged on dreams or daydreams when the innovator was not trying so hard to find the answer. However, the daydream on its own did not achieve anything.

We were on a call recently with an extended creative team generating ideas for client videos. During breaks, I found myself jotting down examples of important creative thinking skills the team was exhibiting. These seven creative thinking skills demonstrated during the call are ones which benefit both those who display them and those working with them too: 1. Suspending advocacy of your own idea to push for another persons concept. Its helpful to be able to come into a creative situation and demonstrate your willingness to champion another persons idea. It can open the way to getting others to support your thinking, as well. 2. Putting your own idea to the same test you apply to an idea from someone else. When it comes to your own ideas, its easy to be a hypocrite and apply all kinds of hurdles to other ideas while letting your own thinking slide by unchallenged in your own mind. Just one thing to remember: dont become somebody known for doing this! 3. Combining two different ideas and making them better (not muddled) as one idea. Often (maybe almost always) compromising on creative ideas leads to something nobody likes, recognizes, or thinks satisfies the original objective. Being able to dissect ideas to pull out highlights and put them together as something new, however, is entirely different, and a great skill to have. 4. Letting someone else take ownership of your idea in order to build support for it. This skill really tests whether you believe so strongly in an idea youre willing to let someone else step up and take it on as their own idea to see it prevail. The key to seeing your idea win out can be letting somebody else be the vocal proponent for it. 5. Displaying the patience to wait for someone else to say what needs to be said so all you have to do is agree. Its tempting to jump in right away and make all the points you feel necessary in a creative discussion before anyone else talks. At times though, patience and silence are called for when it becomes clear someone can and will express your perspective and can do it more appropriately than you can. 6. Sticking to your guns amid challenges to a creative idea which makes solid strategic sense. There are many creative ideas which, while being really cool, have nothing to do with what youre trying to achieve and how you should be achieving it. When confronted with others who are passionately arguing for highly creative yet hardly strategic concepts, make and remake your case if the idea youre advocating is on the mark strategically. 7. Always looking for new creative skills to develop in yourself and those around you. Not only do you want to make yourself stronger creatively at every juncture, its in your best interests to help improve the creative performance of your overall team. Creative meetings are a great opportunity to spot gaps others labor under as well as seeing your

own creative shortcomings. Inventory what you saw (or didnt see) after a creative meeting and get to work filling the gaps.
Critical thinking No one always acts purely objectively and rationally. We connive for selfish interests. We gossip, boast, exaggerate, and equivocate. It is "only human" to wish to validate our prior knowledge, to vindicate our prior decisions, or to sustain our earlier beliefs. In the process of satisfying our ego, however, we can often deny ourselves intellectual growth and opportunity. We may not always want to apply critical thinking skills, but we should have those skills available to be employed when needed. Critical thinking includes a complex combination of skills. Among the main characteristics are the following:

We are thinking critically when we rely on reason rather than emotion, require evidence, ignore no known evidence, and follow evidence where it leads, and are concerned more with finding the best explanation than being right analyzing apparent confusion and asking questions.

We are thinking critically when we weigh the influences of motives and bias, and recognize our own assumptions, prejudices, biases, or point of view.

We are thinking critically when we recognize emotional impulses, selfish motives, nefarious purposes, or other modes of self-deception.

We are thinking critically when we evaluate all reasonable inferences consider a variety of possible viewpoints or perspectives, remain open to alternative interpretations accept a new explanation, model, or paradigm because it explains the evidence better, is simpler, or has fewer inconsistencies or covers more data accept new priorities in response to a reevaluation of the evidence or reassessment of our real interests, and do not reject unpopular views out of hand.

We are thinking critically when we are precise, meticulous, comprehensive, and exhaustive resist manipulation and irrational appeals, and avoid snap judgments.

We are thinking critically when we In sum, Critical thinkers are by natureskeptical. They approach texts with the same skepticism and suspicion as they approach spoken remarks. Critical thinkers areactive, not passive. They ask questions and analyze. They consciously apply tactics and strategies to uncover meaning or assure their understanding. Critical thinkers do not take an egotistical view of the world. They areopento new ideas and perspectives. They are willing to challenge their beliefs and investigate competing evidence. recognize the relevance and/or merit of alternative assumptions and perspectives recognize the extent and weight of evidence

Critical thinking enables us to recognize a wide range of subjective analyses of otherwise objective data, and to evaluate how well each analysis might meet our needs. Facts may be facts, but how we interpret them may vary. By contrast, passive, non-critical thinkers take a simplistic view of the world. They see things in black and white, as either-or, rather than recognizing a variety of possible understanding. They see questions as yes or no with no subtleties. They fail to see linkages and complexities. They fail to recognize related elements.

Non-critical thinkers take an egotistical view of the world They taketheirfacts as the only relevant ones. They taketheir ownperspective as the only sensible one. They taketheir goalas the only valid one.

Problem solving
Problem solving is a mental process and is part of the larger problem process that includes problem finding and problem shaping. Considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of more routine or fundamental skills.[1] Problem solving occurs when an organism or an artificial intelligence system needs to move from a given state to a desired goal state.

Characteristics of difficult problems

As elucidated by Dietrich Drner and later expanded upon by Joachim Funke, difficult problems have some typical characteristics that can be summarized as follows:

Intransparency (lack of clarity of the situation)

commencement opacity continuation opacity Polytely (multiple goals) o inexpressiveness o opposition o transience Complexity (large numbers of items, interrelations and decisions) o enumerability o connectivity (hierarchy relation, communication relation, allocation relation) o heterogeneity Dynamics (time considerations) o temporal constraints o temporal sensitivity o phase effects o dynamic unpredictability

o o

The resolution of difficult problems requires a direct attack on each of these characteristics that are encountered. In reform mathematics, greater emphasis is placed on problem solving relative to basic skills, where basic operations can be done with calculators. However some "problems" may actually have standard solutions taught in higher grades. For example, kindergarteners could be asked how many fingers are there on all the gloves of 3 children, which can be solved with multiplication.[5]

[edit] Problem-solving techniques

Abstraction: solving the problem in a model of the system before applying it to the real system Analogy: using a solution that solved an analogous problem Brainstorming: (especially among groups of people) suggesting a large number of solutions or ideas and combining and developing them until an optimum is found Divide and conquer: breaking down a large, complex problem into smaller, solvable problems Hypothesis testing: assuming a possible explanation to the problem and trying to prove (or, in some contexts, disprove) the assumption Lateral thinking: approaching solutions indirectly and creatively Means-ends analysis: choosing an action at each step to move closer to the goal Method of focal objects: synthesizing seemingly non-matching characteristics of different objects into something new Morphological analysis: assessing the output and interactions of an entire system Reduction: transforming the problem into another problem for which solutions exist Research: employing existing ideas or adapting existing solutions to similar problems Root cause analysis: eliminating the cause of the problem Trial-and-error: testing possible solutions until the right one is found Proof: try to prove that the problem cannot be solved. The point where the proof fails will be the starting point for solving it

"A solution, to be a solution, must share some of the problems characteristics." Richard L Kempe

Problem Solving Skills

One of the most exciting aspects of life is the array of choices that we have on a daily basis. Some of our decisions are simple, like deciding what to eat for dinner or what shirt to wear. However, some choices are challenging and take careful thought and consideration. When we are confronted with these types of decisions, it can be very difficult to decide on the best option, and we may be plagued by indecision. We may be forced to choose between two equally good options, or perhaps, we may have to pick between two choices that both have drawbacks. We may waver back and forth between different alternatives and may feel paralyzed to make the decision. This is a very normal reaction to tough choices in our lives, and we all, at times, experience a sense of being unable to decide on some option. However, researchers have developed a technique that many people have found useful when they are trying to make a difficult decision or solve a problem that seems unsolvable. This procedure involves a series of steps that you can go through on your own when you are confronted with a decision or problem that needs to be solved. This approach may not work perfectly for all difficulties, but it may help with many of the problems you are confronted with in your life.

Step 1: Problem Orientation

This step involves recognizing that a problem exists and that solving the difficulty is a worthwhile endeavor. It is important that you approach the decision-making process with a positive attitude and view the situation as an opportunity or challenge. You should try to approach the situation with confidence and with a willingness to devote some time and effort to finding an appropriate solution to your problem. Remember, you are a competent person, and the problem you are facing can likely be solved with a little hard work.

Step 2: Problem Definition


Before you start to tackle the current problem, it is important to clearly understand the difficulty and why you are unhappy with the current situation. This may seem obvious, but it is important that you really think about and gather information about the problem, and make sure that the problem you are trying to solve is the "real" problem. That is, sometimes people find a different problem than the one that is really distressing them, and focus on this one, since it is easier than dealing with the real problem. This step really involves your thinking about the difficulty you are having, understanding the problem, and contemplating why the situation is distressing. Some people think of problems as a discrepancy between what they want and what the current situation is like. It is useful during this stage to think about how the current situation is different from how you would like it to be, and what your goals are for the state of affairs. If you are currently facing many difficult decisions, it may be helpful to prioritize those problems and deal with them one at a time.

Step 3: Generation of Alternative Solutions

During this stage, you should ask yourself, "What have I done in this situation in the past, and how well has that worked?" If you find that what you have done in the past has not been as effective as you would like, it would be useful to generate some other solutions that may work better. Even if your behavior in the past has worked like you wanted it to, you should think of other solutions as well, because you may come up with an even better idea. When you start to think of possible solutions, don't limit yourself; think of as many possible options as you can, even if they seem unrealistic. You can always discard implausible ideas later, and coming up with these may help generate even better solutions. You may want to write a

list of possible options, or ask others what some solutions they might have for your problem.

Step 4: Decision Making

Now you are ready to narrow down some of the options that you have generated in the previous step. It is important that you examine each of the options, and think about how realistic each is, how likely you would be to implement that solution, and the potential drawbacks of each. For example, if your solution costs a great deal of money or requires many hours of effort each day, this may be too difficult to implement. You should also consider the likelihood that each option has in terms of your being able to achieve the goals that you want regarding the solution. As you start to narrow down your choices, remember, no problem solution is perfect and all will have drawbacks, but you can always revise the solution if it does not work the way you want it to work.

Step 5: Solution Implementation and Verification

Once you have examined all your options and decided on one that seems to accomplish your goals and minimizes the costs, it is time to test it out. Make sure that when you implement this solution, you do so whole-heartedly and give it your best effort. During this stage, you should continue to examine the chosen solution and the degree to which it is "solving" your problem. If you find that the solution is too hard to implement or it is just not working, revise it or try something else. Trying to solve these problems is never an easy task, and it may take several solutions before something works. But, don't give up hope, because with persistence and your best effort, many difficult decisions and problems can be made better!

Essentials of Effective Problem Solving A clear description of the problem A description of the limiting (or negative) factors involved in the problem A description of the constructive (or positive) factors involved in the problem A clear delineation of the ownership of the problem - Whose problem is it: mine, yours, the other guys, my boss, my spouses, my childs, my parents, my teachers? A clear description of the scope of the problem: How extensive a problem is it? How long has this problem existed? How many people are affected? What else is affected by this problem? A clear description of the consequences if the problem were not solved - What is the possible impact on my family, job, life in this community, etc., if this problem isnt solved? What is the worst possible thing that could happen if this problem isnt solved? A list of brainstormed solutions to the problem, with each alternative analyzed as to its reality, its benefits, and the consequences for following each one.
Handbook on Problem-solving Skills 21

A system of ranking each solution to finalize the decision-making process - A rating system for analyzing each solution is developed, e.g., 100% chance of success, 75% chance of success, 50% chance of success.

A clear description of myself as a problem-solver - When it comes to this problem, am I procrastinating? Am I avoiding the problem? Am I denying the problem? Am I shutting down or blocking my creativity on this problem? Am I ignoring it, hoping it will go away? Am I using magical and/or fantasy thinking in addressing the problem? Determination to follow through on the solution decided upon jointly. This involves full motivation to take the risk and pursue the solution to its Fullest Decision making

Decision making can be regarded as the mental processes (cognitive process) resulting in the selection of a course of action among several alternative scenarios. Every decision making process produces a final choice.[1] The output can be an action or an opinion of choice.Decision making skills and techniques
We use our decision making skills to solve problems by selecting one course of action from several possible alternatives. Decision making skills are also a key component of time management skills. Decision making can be hard. Almost any decision involves some conflicts or dissatisfaction. The difficult part is to pick one solution where the positive outcome can outweigh possible losses. Avoiding decisions often seems easier. Yet, making your own decisions and accepting the consequences is the only way to stay in control of your time, your success, and your life. If you want to learn more on how to make a decision, here are some decision making tips to get you started. A significant part of decision making skills is in knowing and practicing good decision making techniques. One of the most practical decision making techniques can be summarized in those simple decision making steps:
1. Identify the purpose of your decision. What is exactly the problem to be solved? Why it should be solved? 2. Gather information. What factors does the problem involve? 3. Identify the principles to judge the alternatives. What standards and judgement criteria should the solution meet? 4. Brainstorm and list different possible choices. Generate ideas for possible solutions. See more on extending your options for your decisions on my brainstorming tips page. 5. Evaluate each choice in terms of its consequences. Use your standards and judgement criteria to determine the cons and pros of each alternative. 6. Determine the best alternative. This is much easier after you go through the above preparation steps. 7. Put the decision into action. Transform your decision into specific plan of action steps. Execute your plan.

8. Evaluate the outcome of your decision and action steps. What lessons can be learnt? This is an important step for further development of your decision making skills and judgement. Decision Making Objectives must first be established Objectives must be classified and placed in order of importance Alternative actions must be developed The alternative must be evaluated against all the objectives The alternative that is able to achieve all the objectives is the tentative decision The tentative decision is evaluated for more possible consequences The decisive actions are taken, and additional actions are taken to prevent any adverse consequences from becoming problems and starting both systems (problem analysis and decision making) all over again There are steps that are generally followed that result in a decision model that can be used to determine an optimal production plan

Decision-Making Steps
When in an organization and faced with a difficult decision, there are several steps one can take to ensure the best possible solutions will be decided. These steps are put into seven effective ways to go about this decision making process (McMahon 2007). The first step - Outline your goal and outcome. This will enable decision makers to see exactly what they are trying to accomplish and keep them on a specific path. The second step - Gather data. This will help decision makers have actual evidence to help them come up with a solution. The third step - Brainstorm to develop alternatives. Coming up with more than one solution ables you to see which one can actually work. The fourth step - List pros and cons of each alternative. With the list of pros and cons, you can eliminate the solutions that have more cons than pros, making your decision easier. The fifth step - Make the decision. Once you analyze each solution, you should pick the one that has many pros (or the pros that are most significant), and is a solution that everyone can agree with. The sixth step - Immediately take action. Once the decision is picked, you should implement it right away. The seventh step - Learn from, and reflect on the decision making. This step allows you to see what you did right and wrong when coming up, and putting the decision to use.

Stress Management - 7 Coping Skills for Stress Relief

Read more: http://lindahampton.articlesbase.com/self-improvement-articles/stress-management7-coping-skills-for-stress-relief-638104.html#ixzz1Yaf5WlAY Under Creative Commons License: Attribution No Derivatives is the controlling and reducing of tension that occurs in stressful situations. Everyone copes with stress everyday. "I'm SO stressed out!" - It seems like you hear it all the time from nearly every one you know . Most people are unprepared to deal with stressors that trigger feelings that can make us sick. Literally, sick. The statistics are staggering. Research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health has shown that anxiety disorders are the number one mental health problem among American women and are second only to alcohol and drug abuse by men. One in every eight Americans age 18-54 suffers from an anxiety disorder. This totals over 19 million people! Anxiety is the most common mental health issue facing adults over the age of 65. Treating anxiety disorders costs the U.S. $46.6 billion annually. Health Psychology magazine reports that chronic stress can interfere with the normal function of the body's immune system. And studies have proven that stressed individuals are more vulnerable to allergic, autoimmune, and cardiovascular diseases. Stress often prompts people to respond in unhealthy ways such as smoking, drinking alcohol, eating poorly, or becoming physically inactive. This causes damage to the mind and body. There are 3 common types of stress: Mini-stress - the annoying hassles of day to day life: - Heavy traffic - Cells phones with no power
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Moderate-stress - the more significant day-to-day hassles that comes from deadlines and time pressures constraints - Project deadline at work - Holidays Severe-stress - those events that are traumatic long term or permanent - Divorce or separation Loss of job Although there is no definitive answer to any of specific stressor you may experience, it's your coping skills that support your ability to manage stress. Here are 7 coping skills to stress proof your life. 1.Know how to relax - find a quiet place, get comfy make sure your body is well supported. Breath slowly and deeply. 2. Eat right and exercise often - avoid caffeine and refined sugar, eat dairy products which may improve your mood. Make exercise a part of your daily life-even if it's only taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking at the far end of the lot. 3. Learn it is OK to say 'no'. Often, many of us feel we have to say 'yes' to everyone, every time we're asked for help. You can't be all things to all people. You must first meet your own needs before you can truly give others what they need. 4. Take a mini-vacation from stress. If you can find fifteen minutes a day, or one hour a week if daily isn't possible, make a date with yourself. Schedule a walk around the block, lunch in the park, a sunrise or sunset alone, a bubble bath without interruptions. 5. Make time for yourself, your number one priority; once your own needs are met you will find you have more time for others. And you may find more pleasure in helping others when you don't feel that you must always put others needs before your own. 6. Go outside and enjoy Mother Nature. A little sunshine and activity can have amazing

ramifications on your stress level and will enhance your entire outlook towards life. Your improved attitude will have a positive effect on everyone. Not only will you be less stressed, you will be healthier, happier, and more energetic; ready to face whatever obstacles come your way. 7. Have a good sense of humor. Be a resource to yourself. Try something new, learn to play again. Laugh. Laughter releases endorphins, chemicals in the brain that restore calm. Stress management and how you cope with stress is part of your daily life. It's how you react to stress that makes all the difference in maintaining your health and well-being. Just like causes of stress differ from person to person, what relieves stress is not the same for everyone. You'll never completely get rid of stress, but you can learn to manage stress with coping techniques that work for you. I hope that I've given you some great ideas on how you can deal with stress. Read more: http://lindahampton.articlesbase.com/self-improvement-articles/stress-management7-coping-skills-for-stress-relief-638104.html#ixzz1YafHtB00 Under Creative Commons License: Attribution No Derivatives Coping Techniques For Stress

Cognitive Restructuring-substituting negative, self-defeating thoughts with positive, affirming thoughts, changing perceptions of stressors from threatening to nonthreatening. Behavior Modification- the adoption of assertive behaviors to increase self-esteem and decrease the likelihood of perceived stress. Journal Writing- expression of thoughts, feelings, memories, and ideas in written form, either prose or poetry, to increase self-awareness. Art Therapy- the creative use of art to provide for nonverbal expression and communication through which to foster self-awareness and personal growth. Humor Therapy- the use of humor or comedy to relieve a stressful situation; self-parody is thought to be the most effective. Creative Problem Solving- utilizing creative abilities to describe a problem, generate ideas, select and refine solution, implement the solution, and evaluate its effectiveness. Time Management- the prioritization, scheduling, and execution of daily responsibilities to a level of personal satisfaction. Effective time management does not mean you have more time; it means you make better use of the time you have. Social Support Groups- those groups of friends, family members, and others whose company acts to buffer against and dissipate the negative effects of stress.

Other Techniques

Hobbies Prayer Spirituality Forgiveness Goal Setting Regular Physical Activity

Healthy Diet

Coping with Emotions

Coping with emotions involves recognising emotions in ourselves and others and how emotions influence behaviour. Being able to respond to emotions appropriately is important because intense emotions (like anger or sorrow) can have negative effects on our health if we do not react appropriately.

Updated on July 28, 2007

Emotions are so automatic because they are habitual, but we can change our bad habits, including our bad emotional habits.
Changing Bad Emotional Habits

1. Understand your feelings. o What am I feeling? o What did I think to make me feel this way? (e.g. inner critic) o Are these thoughts true? (e.g. always, never, sometimes, rarely, just in this one situation, analyze why it is or isn't true) 2. What is the truth? Accept this truth as reality. 3. Forgiveness o "It's over. Let it go." o They (I) did the best they (I) could to meet their (my) most important need with the resources they (I) had. 4. Grow from the experience. o How can I learn from this experience? o What can I do to change this in the future? o If you can solve this problem, sit down and write out a plan to solve it.
Dealing With Emotions About Problems You Can't Change

1. Acknowledge that there is nothing you can do to fix the situation. 2. Recognize that worrying about the situation will not improve anything. 3. Remember that not worrying about the situation doesn't make you a bad person. You can be a better person by directing your energy into something productive rather than worrying about something you can't fix. 4. Distract yourself from the problem by engaging in activities that require your attention: o Watch television o Go to a movie o Read a book o Work / play on the computer o Work on a project o Talk to somebody o Go shopping o Go on a trip o Visit an amusement park

o o o

Visit a museum Sit in an outdoor cafe and people watch Write stories

Expressing Valid Negative Emotions

Sometimes your negative emotions are valid, not based on bad emotional habits. Such emotions may include things like grief and anger about violent crimes. It is important that you express these emotions in a healthy way.

Cry Talk to a friend Talk aloud to yourself Journal Do something that requires lots of powerful energy (like tearing down the old shed in your back yard, ripping out bushes you never planned on keeping anyhow with your bare hands, practicing martial arts, playing racquetball,