Develop critical thinking skills as an expat

May 2022

As an experienced expat you know there is little certainty in the world. Change is fast and market dynamics are becoming increasingly complicated. 

Fortunately, creative leadership thrives in this sort of environment and critical thinking plays an essential role in this form of management. 

Critical thinking is the study of available evidence, facts, observations and arguments to form a judgment. It is a complex and intellectually disciplined process of coming to a conclusion that guides your actions and beliefs. 
Critical thinking and critical analysis can sometimes be confused, although they are related, they are not interchangeable. Critical analysis is the breakdown of complex information into simpler parts, whereas critical thinking involves taking external knowledge into account to come to a conclusion. Simply put, critical analysis is reviewing and breaking down information. Critical thinking is making a judgment based on a rounded view of a situation. 

As a globally mobile business manager it is likely you are responsible for ensuring departments within your business work together to achieve your assignment goal. To do this you are likely to have significant decisions to make that may have far reaching repercussions for your business in that country. Critical thinking is particularly useful for:

• Anticipating problems

• Planning and executing business strategies

• Delegating tasks effectively


The benefits of using critical thinking while making key management decisions include:

• Developing a solutions plan for challenges to your assignment

• Streamlining work processes

• Building effective communication with colleagues 

All essential elements of a successful expat assignment.


When it comes to using critical thinking there is a step by step path to follow:


1. Identification: 

It is difficult to solve any problem without having a full picture of the issue at hand. To begin, take some time to identify the situation including the people, groups and factors that may play a part. With any potential challenges ask yourself:

• Who is doing what?

• What is the reason that this is happening?

• What are the end results and what could we do to change them? 



2. Research:

To truly delve into a situation in a meaningful way it is important to conduct additional research and not to just trust the information provided by those involved. It is possible that these facts may not represent the whole story or they may not be derived from legitimate sources. 



3. Identifying biases:

Identifying bias can be really difficult but the best critical thinkers try to evaluate a situation objectively. A useful analogy may be to think of yourself as a judge doing your best to view the situation independently. You need to evaluate both sides of an argument fairly and without prejudice. When analysing a situation it is useful to ask:

• Who does this benefit?

• Do information sources have another agenda?

• Is the source omitting any information that might be useful?



4. Draw conclusions:

Unfortunately, the data you have accumulated about a situation is unlikely to have a summary explaining what it means and why it is important. When critically thinking you will need to assess the information and base your conclusions on raw data. It is important to remember that not all conclusions will be correct or they may be flawed. The best way to make the best possible choice is to accumulate as much data as possible before jumping to conclusions. 



5. Determining relevance

One of the most difficult parts of critical thinking as an expat will be determining the relevance of all the information you are faced with. In a lot of situations you may be faced with information that seems important to begin with but ends up being an insignificant data point. Determine relevance by working out a clear direction for your work. Have you been tasked with:

• Identifying a trend?

• Finding a solution?

• Reporting on a situation?

Knowing your overall objective will help you to work out what information is most important. 


6. Curiosity:

When it comes to successful critical thinking, curiosity is key. We are all born with an innate curiosity but throughout life we can lose the inclination to ask why? Do your best to ask open ended questions during your time as an expat. It will reap dividends when it comes to understanding issues that may be preventing your business achieving its goals in your target market.


Stay focused on your assignment while working as an expat and let us take care of your international health insurance