Deductive reasoning is a great skill that can prove useful both in your personal life and your professional life. Fortunately, it is not a skill that is restricted to the descendants of Sherlock Holmes.
Anyone can train himself or herself to become good at deductive reasoning.
Most applications of deductive reasoning in your daily life will require you to find new information and combine it with already existing knowledge in order to come up with a conclusion that was not previously obvious to you.
This means that you need to be very perceptive to new information and quite knowledgeable, since you need to relate the new information to some prior knowledge in order to come to a new conclusion.
Below are some tips on how you can improve your deductive reasoning skills:
- Learn to be a good observer: Observation is a very important skill if you want to become good at deductive reasoning, therefore you should make it a habit. Observation helps you gather new information. If you observe anything new, try to analyze and understand it. Always be keen and take time to look at things a second time. For instance, if you work in a customer facing position, try to keenly observe the behavior of customers. Are there any patterns? Are there more customers at certain times compared to others? Do customers order certain goods and services at certain times and not others? Do customers like being served by a certain attendant? Once you make an observation, try to understand the reason behind it. This will help you uncover patterns that were not previously obvious.
- Be curious: Curiosity is one of the best ways of learning new information. If you observe anything you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Curiosity will not only help you to gain new information, it will also motivate you to try and deduce things from the information you already have.
- Increase your knowledge: The more knowledgeable you are, the more likely you are to make connections between different pieces of information and make useful conclusions from the information. Therefore, you should constantly seek to increase you knowledge. Read books. Watch informational videos and documentaries. Listen to podcasts. Keep yourself abreast of trends within your industry. Try to gain as much knowledge as you can, from diverse sources and about different topics.
- Break down problems into small pieces: Often times, we are unable to find solutions to puzzling problems because we tend to overcomplicate issues instead of going for the simple and obvious answers. Part of deductive reasoning involves breaking down knowledge into small pieces (premises) and then trying to see if any inference can be made from these pieces.
- Solve puzzles: Puzzles can also help you improve your deductive reasoning capabilities. Solving puzzles stimulates your brain, triggers changes in your neural pathways and synapses and increases your brain’s neuroplasticity, which in turn improves your ability to become aware of new patterns and to understand relationship between different pieces of information. This is something critical in deductive reasoning. Next time you are commuting to work, solving that crossword puzzle might not only keep you occupied, it might also be helping you to improve your deductive reasoning capabilities.