Critical Thinking: Integrating Intelligence and Character
We may be called upon to apply critical thinking skills to different situations in our everyday life. It could be in our workplaces, schools, or our families. My most memorable moment where I used critical thinking was during a family reunion. Two close families had failed to communicate for over a decade due to what seemed to be conflicts dating many years back. The situation was delicate because my family was one of the feuding parties. To worsen the situation, our parents had passed on the conflict to the children to the extent that some of us had taken up their problems and made them our own. If nothing was done by a rational person, the family would most probably have never reconciled for generations. Apparently, my father had used his position years back to terminate my uncle’s job position. My father was adamant that he was professional in the decision that he had made. My uncle, on the other hand, felt aggrieved by the decision because he struggled to raise his family without a major source of income. Since that day that my uncle had refused to receive any financial help from my father citing the earlier “mistake”. Almost all members of our extended family blamed my father for the decision he had made while in top management because it had directly affected his family’s chances of living a less challenging life. I knew that the time had come to resolve the family because no one else had the initiative. This family conflict demanded me to think clearly. It also required me to engage in independent thinking.
I began by talking to my father and uncle independently and make them understood that conflicts are inevitable within families. I also appreciated each side’s reasons for feeling aggrieved by the other party. It was clear that the family conflict had elicited instinctive emotions that were keeping the members away from thinking rationally towards resolving the conflicting situation. Therefore, I stepped back from the conflict and began looking at facts and the underlying viewpoints. Talking separately, to my father and uncle, created a window of opportunity for us to focus on the problem rather than the people. Surprisingly, my uncle admitted that he had been involved in fraudulent practices that deserved the punishment. As a critical thinker, I objectively evaluated the argument to understand why the two parties failed to understand the initial decision. My father, on the other hand, admitted that he had failed to understand the challenges that his father faced after losing his job. I showed them the long-term implications of their conflict that had driven the families apart. I used the critical thinking tool to turn the situation into an opportunity of uniting the family members. As such, I suggested that we focus on what the future holds for the family after my father and my uncle had admitted to their wrongdoing. I was able to separate the problem of miscommunication from the family members and moderated the resolution process. I was able to use my intelligence and character to change my family members’ habits of thought and action. Since that day, the family has become more united and appreciated the intervention.
Critical thinking is helpful in discerning complex life situations. One of these situations is conflict resolution. As observed above, critical thinking was helpful in resolving a family conflict that had threatened to disunite my family. It helped us to achieve the best possible outcome of the situation by evaluating differing alternatives in a rational manner.