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What are analytical skills (and how to strengthen them for success)

Definition of Analytical Thinking and Analytical Skills

Analytical thinking is very important for a person’s success in social, professional, and intellectual life. It is one’s ability to evaluate information by detecting the patterns between datasets and draw conclusions.

Additionally, analytical skills are a set of abilities that allow a person to gather, organize, visualize, and evaluate information via analytical thinking.

Analytical capabilities indicate that you’re able to consider your next step, solve complex problems, find creative answers, and make smart decisions. This is why they are essential in business life. They allow you to upgrade your resume for job interviews, excel in them, and achieve a successful career.

What are analytical skills (and how to strengthen them for success)

Although they are indispensable in this sense, people often think that these skills can not be developed or improved. So what are analytical skills? Are there any ways to develop strong analytical skills?

Examples of Analytical Skills

First, let’s have a look at examples of analytical skills. In business life, these skills help a person in solving problems and improving her/his overall productivity and success.

We can list the examples of analytical skills as below:

  • Critical thinking
  • Logical reasoning
  • Research
  • Forecasting
  • Problem-solving
  • Data mining
  • Data and metrics analysis
  • Reporting
  • Organization
  • Communication
  • Diagnostics
  • Troubleshooting
  • Creativity
  • Theorizing
  • Brainstorming
  • Decision-making

Brain Games to Improve Analytical Thinking

Logic Balls

This analytical thinking exercise improves reasoning, planning, visualization

Colorful Blocks

A great exercise to improve your analytical skills besides reasoning, spatial perception, and counting skills.

Discover a fun way to improve analytical thinking! It also improves math, planning, and visual attention skills.

On One Condition

Develop analytical skills with this fun exercise besides logical thinking, planning, and sustained attention skills.

Quick and fun scientific brain games can help sharpen your analytical thinking skills efficiently. Only 20 minutes of training a day can make problems disappear and give your brain new momentum.

5 Ways to Develop Analytical Skills

1. Solve maths problems

Solving math problems is one of the most common and easiest ways of improving analytical skills besides mathematical intelligence. Math problems depend on logic, like math puzzles or math riddles, which give you a certain amount of information to solve that problem. Therefore, it is a direct exercise to improve analytical skills.

What are analytical skills (and how to strengthen them for success)

2. Join a debate team or book club

Groups like these provide people with the opportunity to come together to discuss ideas and issues in a social setting. Participants often come with differing views and experiences. By participating in debate teams and book clubs, you can develop the way you articulate yourself, present your perspectives, and develop responses to challenges from others.

What are analytical skills (and how to strengthen them for success)

3. Seek out learning opportunities

The more we learn about the world, the more tools and information we have to understand and solve real-life problems. Learning resources to improve your analytical skills include books (including a wide range of genres), newspapers, science magazines, public lectures, and community classes.

What are analytical skills (and how to strengthen them for success)

4. Keep a personal journal

Another way to develop analytical skills is by keeping a personal journal. It allows people to make time to process the day, analyze their decisions, and think about how to improve them in the future. It is a beneficial habit for self-reflection that consequently improves one’s analytical thought processes.

What are analytical skills (and how to strengthen them for success)

5. Play brain games

Playing brain games is a fun way to improve your analytical skills and mental agility. It encourages a person to think logically and provides a foundation when facing more challenging problems. Also, it is a great way to develop one’s analytical skills while having fun.

What are analytical skills (and how to strengthen them for success)

FAQ About Analytical Thinking and Skills

What does analytical mean?

The word “analytical” is defined as examining or liking to examine things in detail in order to discover more about them.

What does it mean to have an analytical mind?

People with analytical minds are curious by nature. They tend to get to the bottom of things to solve a problem and find an answer. These analytical thinkers do not rush to conclusions, question every detail about a problem, and discover the patterns between them.

How to think critically and analytically?

Analytical and critical thinking are notions that are often discussed together because critical thinking is known as the ability to think rationally while drawing a logical connection between ideas. In order to think critically and analytically, you can solve math problems, join a debate team or book club, seek out learning opportunities, keep a personal journal, and play brain games.

How to improve analytical skills in English?

Analytical skills in English can be improved with certain tasks that strengthen the ability to think quickly about a text and find out the patterns in it. Reading a variety of English texts can improve analytical thinking and also the ability to understand and solve business-related problems in this language.

Why are analytical skills important in business?

Analytical skills are essential in business life because they allow people to find creative solutions to problems and make decisions accordingly. Moreover, employees with good analytical skills can solve a company’s problems and improve its overall productivity, efficiency and success. Thus, developing your analytical thinking can improve your work performance and help you achieve company goals and personal career aspirations.

How to improve analytical skills and boost innovation.

Why analytical thinking is important:

People with analytical thinking skills are in demand.

There are typical business situations where we call on our analytical thinking to help us make decisions, such as:

Strategizing future direction for the business

Deciphering the impact of market conditions on the business

Innovating new applications for existing products or services

Analytical thinking is not new. Humans have had the capacity for analytical thinking for millennia.

The problem is that using analytical thinking is not necessarily intuitive, and the talent areas noted below may not come quickly to everyone. Here are the thought processes we expect a person to use when using analytical thinking skills:

Recognize the underlying issues or problems

Organize information related to the underlying issues or problems

Integrate all the pieces

Draw proper conclusions

New ideas on how to improve analytical skills

At its essence, thinking analytically involves breaking things down into their parts quickly and applying gut-level judgement to decisions.

Analytical thinking is an umbrella that covers eight natural talents that each of us has to varying degrees.

The more clarity you have in each of these eight talents, the higher your skill in analytical thinking.

Let’s move our discussion of analytical thinking up a notch.

Your business makes widgets, and your target market is exhausted. It’s time to expand your business through developing new markets or new uses – the true definition of innovation – for your widgets.

As you debrief your team on options they see for your widgets, keep in mind the list below of talents comprising analytical thinking.

You’ll find that your team brings you a variety of things to consider.

As your team members discuss options, give some thought to which team members are less talented and have lower clarity in these talents.

Here’s the list of the eight natural talent areas that are under the umbrella of analytical thinking:

Balanced decision making – Make decisions which place equal emphasis on all involved parties or concerns, therefore making decisions which are more likely to satisfy all needs.

Conceptual thinking – Mentally role-plays the execution of the long-range projection and makes accurate predictions about the possible outcomes.

Evaluating what is said – Objectively rate feedback and “hear” the concerns, intentions, or opinions being stated, as opposed to inserting their feelings or opinions.

Intuitive decision making – Comfortable making decisions on their feet, without having to study a situation or requiring logical observations to look at.

Problem-solving – Pool together multiple capacities and talents to assess all aspects of a problem from beginning to end, from identification to resolution.

Seeing potential problems – Integrate “now” events into futuristic structures and decide what possible issues might arise. This questioning requires a very flexible perspective.

Theoretical problem solving – Identify future issues and formulate the right steps which would be needed to correct them. They are comfortable enough with their ability to take action on these decisions.

Using common-sense – More of a natural reflex than a logical thinking process, this talent uses every day, informal knowledge that has not been formally evaluated and placed in the decision making process.

Businesses use assessments to understand an individual’s natural talents in these analytical thinking areas.

If analytical thinking is essential to you, be sure to use an assessment that provides a score on the eight natural talent areas listed above.

The Attribute Index we use is one example of an assessment that gives you this information.

Many professional development programs contain content that will strengthen these abilities.

If you are wondering if a person can build or strengthen their analytical thinking talents, the answer is yes.

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Definition & Examples of Analytical Skills

What are analytical skills (and how to strengthen them for success)

Analytical skills refer to the ability to collect and analyze information, problem-solve, and make decisions. Employees who possess these skills can help solve a company’s problems and improve its overall productivity and success.

Learn more about analytical skills and how they work.

What Are Analytical Skills?

Employers look for employees with the ability to investigate a problem and find the ideal solution in a timely, efficient manner. The skills required to solve problems are known as analytical skills.

You use analytical skills when detecting patterns, brainstorming, observing, interpreting data, integrating new information, theorizing, and making decisions based on the multiple factors and options available.

Solutions can be reached by clear-cut, methodical approaches, or through more creative techniques. Both ways of solving a problem require analytical skills.

How Analytical Skills Work

Most types of work require analytical skills. You use them to solve problems that may not have obvious solutions or that have several variables.

Let’s say you’re the manager of a restaurant and have been going over budget on food for the past two weeks. You review the menus and what customers have ordered along with food costs from your suppliers.

You see that the cost of seafood has increased over the past two weeks. When you talk to the supplier, they explain that there’s been a disruption in the supply chain due to weather. They’ve increased costs to compensate. You decide to reduce your seafood order to lower costs and work with your chef to develop new specials that take advantage of other protein options.

In this example, you used analytical skills to review data from different sources, integrated new information, and made a decision based on your observations.

Types of Analytical Skills

What are analytical skills (and how to strengthen them for success)

The best analytical skills to highlight on a resume depend on the position you’re applying for. Here are five skills to consider.

Communication

Analysis only goes so far if you can’t share and implement your findings. You need to be an effective communicator to discuss the patterns you see and your conclusions and recommendations.

Analytical communication skills include:

  • Problem sensitivity
  • Active listening
  • Reporting
  • Surveying
  • Teamwork
  • Oral communication
  • Written communication
  • Conducting presentations

Creativity

Analyzing information often requires a creative eye to spot trends in the data that others may not find. Creativity is also important when it comes to problem-solving. The obvious solution is not always the best option. Employees with strong analytical skills will think outside the box to come up with effective solutions to big problems.

Creative skill sets include:

  • Budgeting
  • Brainstorming
  • Collaboration
  • Optimization
  • Predictive modeling
  • Restructuring
  • Strategic planning
  • Integration

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking refers to evaluating information and then making a decision based on your findings. Critical thinking is what helps an employee make decisions that help solve problems for a company. It may include:

  • Process management
  • Auditing
  • Benchmarking
  • Big data analytics
  • Business intelligence
  • Case analysis
  • Causal relationships
  • Classifying
  • Comparative analysis
  • Correlation
  • Decision-making
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Inductive reasoning
  • Diagnostics
  • Dissecting
  • Evaluating
  • Data interpretation
  • Judgment
  • Prioritization
  • Troubleshooting

Data Analysis

No matter what your career field, being good at analysis means being able to examine a large volume of data and identify trends in that data. You have to go beyond just reading and understanding information to make sense of it by highlighting patterns for top decision-makers.

There are many different types of data analysis, but some of the most common ones in today’s workplace include:

  • Business analysis
  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis
  • Cost analysis
  • Credit analysis
  • Critical analysis
  • Descriptive analysis
  • Financial analysis
  • Industry research
  • Policy analysis
  • Predictive analytics
  • Prescriptive analytics
  • Process analysis
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Return on investment (ROI) analysis

Research

You must learn more about a problem before you can solve it, so an essential analytical skill is being able to collect data and research a topic. This can involve reviewing spreadsheets, researching online, collecting data, and looking at competitor information.

Analytical research skills include:

  • Investigation
  • Metrics
  • Data collection
  • Prioritization
  • Checking for accuracy

Analytical thinking is a soft skill, but field-specific, technical types of analysis are hard skills. Both should be highlighted on your resume and in interviews.

Highlighting Analytical Skills

Analytical skills are sought after employers, so it’s best to highlight these skills when you’re applying and interviewing for jobs. Consider:

How would one define analytical skills?

What are analytical skills and why are they so important? Analytical skills are the ability to visualize, gather information, articulate, analyze, solve complex problems, and make decisions Analytical skills are essential in the workplace to ensure necessary problem solving occurs to keep productivity and other areas of the workforce functioning smoothly.

Testing Analytical Skills
If you were to test for analytical skills you might be asked to take a series of events and put them in proper sequence, look for advertisement inconsistencies, or read an essay with a critical eye.
There are generally standardized tests used as a guideline. In all instances analytical skills require you to dissect a problem and then find a solution for that problem. There are many skills required within a company and its workforce, but analytical skills are essential in every organization.

Examples of Good Analytical Skills

Let’s have a look at some way examples of analytical skills and how they might apply in a work environment. There are many examples of analytical skills. A few examples include:

  • Analyzing abilities: The ability to take a large volumes of data and then analyze trends and produce a result
  • Dealing with problems: Give examples of problem solving at work
  • Programming: Write a systems program with accurate results output
  • Reporting: A written report on the effectiveness of a particular event such as a political campaign
  • Handling assignments effectively: Discovering a more efficient and productive way to complete a particular job task.
  • Process: Creating a set of steps to implement a process that could have a yes or no outcome.
  • Problem handler: Identifying a problem and then creating a repair to avoid it becoming a major problem.
  • Collect information, analyze the data from the information collected, and come up with a solution to a problem.

Interview Questions to Determine Your Analytical Skills

The following are some job interview questions to probe these skills of a candidate.

  1. What would be the steps you would follow to study a problem and then make a final judgment on?
  2. Talk to me about a time when you discovered a more efficient method to carry out a particular work related task.
  3. Can you give me an example of a smaller problem that you identified and fixed before it could turn into a major problem?
  4. Describe a task that you undertook that tested your analytical abilities.
  5. Do you recall a problem you analyzed that required a quick and easy solution?
  6. Can you recall a situation where your analytical outcome was incorrect and if you could do it again what would you handle differently?
  7. What is the most complex analytical assignment you have undertaken to date?

Having Strong Analytical Skills – Improving Analytical Skills

If you want to improve and develop your analytical skills you simply have to practice, after all practice makes perfect.
Take time to do a variety of different analytical questions.

Where can you develop your skills?

  • Online practice: There are plenty of sites online that offer free challenges and of course you can also invest in a number of books that improve analytical skills.
  • Professional development at workplaces: Many workplaces also offer seminars and other training to help improve analytical skills. Be sure to sign up. This is a skill that will benefit you throughout your career.

“Analyze your life your love your future with your improved analytical skills.”

What are analytical skills and why do you need them? Before you leave the page after reading the word “analytical”, give us a few minutes. We are not asking you to be the guy or gal that never surfaces from a spreadsheet. Far from it.

In their simplest form, you already use analytical skills every day. Whether it is to determine which route to commute to work or what size Starbucks coffee you want to order (not promoting Starbucks here, but we are huge coffee fans nonetheless).

What we are asking you to do is to understand what analytical skills truly are. You need to recognize that you need stellar ones to be successful as a consultant.

What are analytical skills (and how to strengthen them for success)

What Are Analytical Skills?

The bottom line? Analytical skills are what you need to solve problems or help others understand how to solve their problems (always better when it’s not your problem, right?). They involve being able to review information logically and thoughtfully prior to drawing conclusions.

You may utilize these conclusions to solve problems yourself – consulting firms love to sell downstream work. Otherwise, they must be clearly and succinctly communicated to stakeholders as recommendations.

Consulting firms want to know you know how to think critically. They want to see you develop solutions to problems based on thorough research, critical thinking, and creativity.

No, we are not asking you to become a chronic overthinker. Instead, we are suggesting you develop the ability to solve problems through a process – one that requires analytical skills.

Excel for Consulting

Mental Math for Consulting

Analytical Skills List

Analytical skills are largely comprised of the following:

Data Analysis

The ability to sort through relevant data, draw conclusions based on the information provided, and develop recommended solution(s).

Communication

The ability to clearly and succinctly articulate information/solutions based on the data analysis.

Critical Thinking

Thoughtful, rational, and purposeful thinking to reach a goal or solve a problem.

Creativity

The ability to see patterns in data and formulate workable solutions to problems based on available information.

Research

The systematic review of information, including identifying what is relevant and what is not, to ultimately help the formulation of solutions to problems.

How Can I Improve My Analytical Skills?

If analytical skills are not your strong suit, don’t worry, you can develop them.

There are a number of ways you can develop your analytical skills. Some ways even allow you to have fun at the same time (logic games anyone?).

However, we have only 1 top suggestion to help you fine tune those analytical skills fast:

Put yourself out of your comfort zone. The best way to develop skills is through trial by fire. If you are a student, approach a local business and ask if you can solve a market sizing problem for them over the course of 1 week, for free. You’ll strengthen your analytical skills more in that 1 week than in a whole semester’s worth of classes.

If you’re in the workforce, ask for heavier analytical workstreams or volunteer for special projects. If you don’t begin to change the way you work practically, no amount of reading or watching videos will help you.

What Are Analytical Skills Examples?

So, what are analytical skills examples? The following chart shows some examples of analytical skills in action:

Analytical Skill Analytical Skill Example
Data Analysis Scenario Analysis, Financial Analysis, Predictive Analytics
Communications Surveying, Reporting, Teamwork, Presentation, Written Communication
Critical Thinking Calculating, Case Analysis, Process Management, Correlation
Creativity Strategic Planning, Brainstorming, Budgeting, Restructuring
Research Data Collection, Investigation, Accuracy Review, Metrics

Analytical Skills in Action – We all Need to Use and Develop Them

The term “analytical” has become a buzzword in every job description and piece of resume advice you’ll read. We hope this breakdown of what actually constitutes analytical skills was helpful.

Your next step? Ensure you have developed these skills to prepare – either for the case interview or for life on the job.

Work with us on 1:1 case interview prep or check out our Excel for Consulting course where you will build simple models in response to real-world problems.

What are analytical skills (and how to strengthen them for success)

Analytical leaders are renowned for their natural ability to analyze information using their critical thinking skills. They thrive in careers that others may find challenging, as they operate and even absorb information differently than most people.

Believe it or not, even the smartest, most rational and logical brain faces unexpected challenges in the business world. They can fall into the trap of relying too heavily on their left-brain skills, and it can hinder their success as a leader.

In order to grow as a leader and uncover unnoticed blind spots, it’s important to consider these challenges. Having more responsibility and moving up in leadership roles requires developing new skills to lead effectively and to work through others. Traits that have in past roles been strengths can turn into weaknesses when they’re not balanced in a leadership position. Being aware of these potential blind spots is key when developing optimal performance.

Here are five tips analytical leaders can leverage to increase their performance:

1. Develop intuitive decision making.

Leaders have to make quick decisions; sometimes, they have to make those decisions without all the information available.

For an analytical leader, this can go against their very nature. In order to feel comfortable, they want to go through all the data and establish connections. They may forget to be inclusive of others, relying solely on their own thinking, because that behavior has been successful for them in the past.

In order for analytical leaders to thrive and make the right decisions (even without having all information they think is necessary), they need to develop a sense of intuition by considering data that is not rational and begin to mature their right-brain skills.

2. Let go of structure.

Analytical people tend to be very organized and structured, which does not always support other team members in their work progress. Perfectionism has the potential to slow down processes and stunt others in their creative thinking.

B eing able to let go of structure and operate well, even when things are not perfect, is essential when stepping into a leadership role. The “perfect” scenario rarely exists in today’s hectic business atmosphere. Analytical people need to see the value in developing a sense of groundedness and see the bigger picture even when there are chaos and a lack of systems in place.

3. Enhance your communication skills.

Professionals who tend to be more analytical often prefer to communicate using facts and data. They can find it difficult to show enough emotion or appropriate empathy, which can make interpersonal interactions uncomfortable.

In order to create a supportive office environment, leaders benefit from enhancing their communication skills. This is especially true in a leadership role, where the main responsibilities are to manage people, work through them and encourage and inspire them to take action.

It’s especially beneficial to develop the ability to effectively communicate intentions. This is not solely for the sake of achieving results and hitting goals most efficiently, but to enable others to work with clarity and focus in an inspiring environment. Communication skills are vital to interpersonal relationships, in the office as well as during after-work hours.

4. Embrace teamwork.

Analytical leaders often prefer to work by themselves, thereby impeding team cohesion. However, working in teams is inevitable when your responsibility includes managing them. This emphasizes how important the development of vital skills such as delegating roles and responsibilities is to the success of the unit.

In order to optimize productivity and potential, analytical leaders need to learn to give others the opportunity to contribute to projects as well. The transition from a “me” environment to a “we” environment can be especially challenging for analytical mindsets.

5. Maintain productivity.

Although everyone procrastinates occasionally, an analytical personality may do it more often because they lose time researching information and wanting to wait until the results are perfect. Sometimes, trying to accomplish every task perfectly holds one back from accomplishing anything at all. Paralysis through analysis is very common for people who think a lot and who may even measure their worth through their results.

It’s important to be incredibly productive and to be able to execute rapidly when it comes to leading a team to results.

Being analytical is an amazing trait that enables people to have a great career. But in order to be successful in a leadership role, it’s important to develop right-brain skills such as creating and maintaining high-energy relationships and communicating effectively. There needs to be a focus on nurturing the skills to work through others instead of leaders doing all the work themselves.

When stepping into a leadership role or wanting to optimize potential, becoming more of an all-rounder as a person can be very beneficial for the leader, their team, company culture and, ultimately, their bottom line.

12 Analytical Skills To Succeed At Work

While least once during the interview, you’ve been asked this question: “Can you tell us about a problem you encountered and how you overcame it?” Have you ever wondered why such questions are asked at all? The answer is simple: the employer is trying to evaluate your analytical skills.

Employees with good analytical skills are incredibly appreciated, because they are seen as those who will quickly solve any problems that arise. Analytical skills can be acquired and this will make you an indispensable employee.

Now let’s look at the most common and significant skills that will definitely come in handy for you in your work.

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12 Analytical Skills To Succeed At Work

1 The ability to identify problems in the initial stages – Analytical Skills To Succeed At Work

When the problem has already manifested itself, to influence the work activity and even start a chain of undesirable changes, everyone can recognize it.

But to see the problem at the initial stage, when it has not yet done harm, is the ability of a person with analytical thinking.

He sees how his (or someone else’s) decisions can affect the general state of affairs and tries to eliminate problems even before they appear.

2 Research and data collection

It is not as simple as it seems. Firstly, because there can be a lot of data, which requires more involvement in the process. Secondly, because you must be able to separate important data from those that do not affect the state of affairs.

3 Data Analysis – Analytical Skills To Succeed At Work

They analyze data in almost any field. This helps to understand the whole situation under study – to identify all patterns and negative deviations from the plan, make a forecast for the near future and give the necessary recommendations. Some companies hire specially trained analysts to focus on data analysis.

4 Critical Thinking

A critically thinking person casts doubt on the information he has received and only after verification of reliability does he use it for his own purposes. He searches for confirmation or refutation of information only in reliable sources or compares data with already known ones.

5 Process Analysis – Analytical Skills To Succeed At Work

Too often, people see a problem, evaluating the situation based on the result, which forces them to make the wrong decisions. An analysis of the process should exclude such a possibility, because the study, in this case, is aimed at studying cause-effect relationships, which helps to take more effective measures.

6 Comparison

The concept of “perfect solution” does not exist. In most cases, a problem has more than one solution. Analytical skills will allow you to evaluate the pros and cons of various scenarios in order to minimize the possibility of negative consequences.

Analytical Skills To Succeed At Work

7 Human Resource Management – Analytical Skills To Succeed At Work

This is not just the ability to set up a person for work – it is first of all the ability to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each employee and, based on the result, assign them tasks in accordance with skill sets.

8 Prioritization

Regardless of whether we are talking about a new project or identifying problems and shortcomings in the system, one problem rarely arises. In most cases, there are several shortcomings in this process that need to be addressed. It is with the help of analytical thinking that you can prioritize problems identified.

9 Reporting – both oral and written

Every employee – from the janitor to the chairman of the board of directors – has a boss. And reporting to the boss is an ongoing process. Everything, from written reports on the state of affairs to individual ones, should be presented in the best possible way – correctly formatted and supported by analytical data.

10 Planning

Analytical skills will allow you to break a large project into separate parts to facilitate its implementation. But you will not do this at random, but only by weighing the pros and cons.

11 Recognition of causal relationships

It is not enough to be able to recognize a problem – it is important to learn how to trace cause and effect relationships in order to understand why this problem arose. This is the most effective way that can significantly reduce the number of possible problems even before they occur.

12 Identification of problems and weaknesses in the organization

Having a good set of analytical skills allows you to correctly diagnose problems or deficiencies within the organization. Data may show that there is a problem, but it is data analysis that points to it. Is the cause of the problem a design defect, a supplier problem, human error or quality control? You will need to find the answer to these questions.

If you are anything like me, your brain gets muddled sometimes. Mine is full of thoughts that go off in a myriad of different tangents while I race to keep up. I often wonder, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to think rationally once in a while? Well, developing analytical skills can help to do just that.

Why Are Analytical Skills Important?

My friends would describe me as unorganised, over-emotional at times, and opinionated. I start working on one thing, but then I lose the thread or the plot. My writing doesn’t have the natural flow I can see in my head. I know what I want to say but I don’t know how to convey it onto the page.

It’s frustrating to me. I find these incredible nuggets and ideas to share with people, then my skills in communicating those thoughts let me down.

But it’s not just about communication.

“Thinking analytically is a skill like carpentry or driving a car. It can be taught, it can be learned, and it can improve with practice. But unlike other skills, it is not learned by sitting in a classroom and being told how to do it. Analysts learn by doing.”

-Richards J. Heuer Jr., CIA (ret)

Analytical skills are considered to be one of life’s critical skills. As such, they can help in all walks of life. This is because by examining a situation analytically, you take out all the emotion, all the bias, and strip it down to the bare facts.

This means you are left with the raw data which cannot be manipulated. There should be nothing left to influence your decision. You are now free to make an informed choice, based solely on factual information.

For example, analytical skills can help you make a decision in the workplace. They help us make better decisions in relationships. They are an aid to our success.

What Are Analytical Skills?

If you’ve never had to conduct an experiment or you have never had to write an essay, then you might not have come across analytical skills before.

Simply put, analytical skills:

Break down complex situations, problems, ideas, concepts, or information in a rational and logical way

Gathering relevant information and new data from reliable sources

Find patterns, other meaningful connections, new information, causes or effects

This new data can provide an answer, solution, or help with a decision to the original situation/problem.

So now that you know more about how to think analytically and how it can help you, how can you develop these skills? Well, there are ways you can practice and hone your skills.

4 Science-Backed Ways to Improve Your Analytical Skills

Talk to people outside your social circle

Whilst it is always nice to have your ideas and beliefs validated and backed up by your friends and acquaintances, you don’t really ever get challenged.

I find this a lot, especially when I am chatting on social media. I’ll post something that I consider to be important and then I’ll think, well, what’s the point? The majority of my friends either agree with me or they already know about it.

This is called living in an echo chamber and it can be quite dangerous. Not only do you tend to discuss the same topics and have similar views, but no one has a different opinion to you. As a result, you never learn anything new. You never get to hear a different perspective.

Stop gossiping and start practising empathy instead

You might think what has gossiping got to do with learning analytical skills? Well, again, it’s all about perspective. When you repeat rumours about another person, you are not thinking rationally or logically. You are merely echoing words said by someone else.

There’s that echo word again. By putting yourself in another person’s shoes, you are actively thinking. You are, in a sense, conducting your own research. You are examining that person’s life. You are looking at how they live. What their situation is. What their choices are.

By doing that, you are analysing them. You are seeing things from their point of view. You are gathering your own information and making an informed decision. That’s analytical thinking.

Play brain and word games

There are so many free brain games available that can really help to expand your analytical skills. Any brain games that test your mental ability will do. Games such as Scrabble, chess, cryptic crosswords, trivia question games, word puzzles, and logical thinking games are ideal.

In fact, studies show that just playing these types of games for 15 minutes a day can increase a range of cognitive functions, including memory, attention, and problem-solving.

The best part is that the results are the same whether you play these games on your own or with your family. So long as you play them for 15 minutes a day for 7 days a week.

Put your calculator away

Maths was never my strongest subject at school, but when I left, one of my first jobs was as a barmaid in a local pub. This was before those fancy tills where every item was listed. In my day, you had to add up drinks and snacks in your head.

At first, it would take me ages to work out the correct total, but after a while, I had the correct price before I even reached the till. Nowadays, I don’t trust myself even when I am using an online calculator.

The problem is that mathematics uses the left-hand side of the brain which also deals with logic, analytical thought, and reasoning. So when you begin to use your brain to add up or subtract, you are using the left-hand side more. This helps with honing other analytical skills.

Now that you have a clearer understanding of how to increase the skills for analytical thinking, here is where you can use them.

Where to Use Your New Analytical Skills

  • Decision-making
  • Developing your career
  • Relationship conflicts
  • Financial management
  • Discerning truth from fiction
  • Making a large purchase
  • Deciding on what route to take
  • Choosing a holiday destination
  • Hiring a new employee

Final Thoughts

Acquiring analytical skills doesn’t mean you are a cold and unemotional person. Actually, it means you examine every angle in an unbiased way. You gather all the relevant information and come to the best conclusion possible.

The really good thing about it is that anyone can learn to hone their skills and that it can be used in a wide range of applications.

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November 30, 2017 by Rachael Jones


What are analytical skills and why do you need them?

Having great analytical skills is not just the reserve of the Data Analyst or Accountant. If you’re looking at a career in Finance, Marketing, Operations, or hope to start your own business, analytical skills are more important than ever.

In a world of fierce competition and dynamic markets, it is essential to understand data and to fully understand the sphere that you are operating within, so you can report back on the success of a campaign or dealing with problems. Analytical skills are also critical for financial reporting and budgeting, competitor analysis, customer insight, campaign testing, use of CRM systems and effective reporting, building key performance indicators, market scanning and strategic planning. В

Sometimes analytical skills can be overlooked and seen as ‘not as important’ compared to other areas such as creativity and leadership, but if you want to be successful, think and plan strategically and make the most out of your job, you need to ensure that you invest them. If you’ve gone a little off-piste, an analytical approach can help to put you on the right track and see the bigger picture.

Can you learn and improve your analytical skills?

Yes! Just like everything else, practice makes perfect. When it comes to analytical skills these skills are best learned while doing, rather than in a classroom. Make sure you have a plan! Having a plan will help you to think of everything that you need to cover, report on and help you keep track of everything you’re doing. When it comes to improving your analytical skills you need to take your time, most people think that just because you are not seeing a huge difference in the way you think and solve problems that you really aren’t getting any better. Sometimes, picking up on certain skills takes longer than expected and that’s okay.

Another great tip for learning and improving your analytical skills is making sure mind games such as crossword puzzles, strategy games and Sudoku are part of your learning process as these have been known to improve people’s analytical skills. As long as you keep learning, your analytical skills will follow, as well as other vital skills that you need for a career.

You basically need to be a great detective – examine, question and challenge everything. By building skills in this area, you will become the point of truth and a key member of any team.

By Kerry Parker, Insight Manager, Pearson College London