Creative Thinking Skills (Definitions, Examples, And How To Improve)

By Sky Ariella
Jul. 7, 2022
Skills Based Articles

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Creative thinking soft-skills can take you far in your career, regardless of your field. Being able to evaluate your work and unexpected circumstances through a unique perspective can aid in your problem-solving skills and overall performance.

Creative thinking skills are sought after by hiring managers because they want to create a team of original and analytical thinkers who aspire for innovation.

Whether or not you feel like an extremely creative person, this is a skill you can hone in on and develop. Maybe you can’t produce a realistic portrait with paint on paper, but you can definitely master the conceptual steps an artist used to get there. This can be very useful in your professional life.

Key Takeaways:

  • Creative thinking requires you to think in ways that go beyond the status quo.

  • Creative thinking skills are highly sought after in the workplace because they help with problem solving.

  • Examples of creative thinking include being reflective, keeping an open mind, and analyzing a situation from all angles.

  • Collaboration and asking questions are great ways to increase your creativity.

  • There are many great jobs for creative minds, including marketing, writing, and graphic design.

[Creative Thinking Skills (Definitions, Examples, And How To Improve)

What Is Creative Thinking?

Creative thinking means different things for varying people and professions. Its definition can be as broad as thoughts themselves. In the workplace, creative thinking really boils down to its impact on your productivity and ability to solve challenges.

For example, you could work in an administrative position and come up with a brilliant new filing system that saves employees half the time. This end goal of productivity is your masterpiece, and you did a lot of critical creative thinking to arrive at it.

As you can probably imagine, this type of creativity can be very helpful with efficiency and tasks in the workforce. Creative thinking is also valuable to employers because it’s this type of unorthodox mindset that inspires innovation.

Creative thinking skills aren’t limited to one specific quality for success. Creativity is a culmination of many qualities and behaviors that you can always improve on with practice. Some skills in creative thinking may be a breeze to you, while others could use some refinement.

Examples of Creative Thinking Skills

  1. Problem-Solving. A big part of using your creative thinking skills productively in your career is creating solutions to arising or nagging problems. In the face of issues at work, a creative thinker’s mind jumps to new methods of resolution. Employers seek job applicants with these proven problem-solving abilities because they want to bring this energy to their company. When issues present themselves, supervisors need to count on their team to handle it effectively and perhaps even turn a problem into a positive situation.

    Examples of Problem-Solving Skills Include:

    • Communication

    • Analytical thinking

    • Brainstorming

    • Prioritization

    • Planning

    • Coordination

    • Time-management

    • Interpersonal abilities

  2. Analytical Thinking. Analytical thinking and problem-solving abilities are often thought of as the same thing. In reality, analytical thinking is a mechanism that helps solve complex problems, but they are not one and the same. Analytical thinking refers to your ability to observe, logically evaluate, and come to a conclusion about anything. In the context of your job, this will often be about solving problems. Analytical thinking is a key component of professional creativity because it’s a process that allows you to channel ideas practically.

    Analytical Thinking Skills Include:

    • Research

    • Prediction

    • Data interpretation

    • Decision-making

    • Communication

    • Reflection

  3. Openness. Creative thinking skills evolve from having an open mind to all possibilities. After all, reducing your openness to new ideas only limits your possibility of stumbling on a great one. Open-mindedness can also mean that you aren’t opposed to straying from traditional business methods. Doing things in a new way can result in improvement from the past.

    Open-Mindedness Involves:

    • Flexibility

    • Willingness to learn

    • Critical-thinking

    • Receptiveness to other’s ideas and new information

    • Availability for discussion

    • Collaboration

  4. Commitment. Even if you’re a creatively inclined person, simply thinking creative thoughts doesn’t automatically make you a better employee. For creative thinking to be useful, there must be a commitment to the plan of action. Without solid commitment and effort, a good idea is simply that.

    An idea.

    Commitment to an Idea Involves:

    • In-depth research

    • Analyzing findings

    • Creating a detailed plan

    • Delegating tasks ina leadership position

    • Discussion with your team

    • Reviewing performance for strengths and weakness

  5. Listening and Discussion Skills. Being part of an organization means that you consider the input of your team before moving forward with a plan. Being able to accept opinions and be open to a discussion about your new ideas is crucial in making them work on a team. Ask questions and take in their response. Listening to your co-workers and supervisors’ comments may even improve upon your proposal.

    Listening and Discussion Skills Involve:

    • Eye contact

    • Focus

    • Paying attention to non-verbal communication (posture, smiling, etc.)

    • Asking questions

    • Brainstorming

    • Clarifying concerns

    • Summarizing and repeating key discussion points

    • Following-up

  6. Noticing Patterns. Many creative thinkers devise useful solutions by noticing patterns within the workplace. Making connections between seemingly unrelated things can create drastic progression. The ability to perceive and use patterns can help you with formulating unique solutions to complex problems.

  7. Reflection. As with any professional project, after putting your idea and plans into action, you must take time to reflect on it. Possessing reflection skills means that you’re able to give yourself feedback, and consider the work you’ve done constructively. This involves both acknowledging what parts of your plan worked well, and which didn’t live up to expectation. Reflection is an important piece of creative thinking because it allows you to take what you’ve learned onto the next project and do an even better job.

    Reflection Involves:

    • Self-Awareness

    • Acknowledging achievements

    • Considering why mistakes happened

    • Asking for co-worker feedback

    • Conducting further research

    • Planning for the future

Tips to Encourage Creativity

Creative thinking skills can be improved upon with a little effort if you feel your abilities are lacking in this area. Consider the following tips to upgrade your creativity and advance your work performance.

  1. Participate in Online Courses. The internet is a vast place, and within it are a bounty of free courses to help you refine skills in many areas. You can find free-to-cheap classes to develop your creative thinking broadly or in your niche.

    Possible Online Courses to Encourage Creativity Include:

  2. Collaborate with Others. One fantastic way to boost your own creativity is by turning to the people around you for inspiration. Engage in thought-provoking conversation often. Some of the world’s greatest philosophies and innovations were sprung from an influential conversation. Your friends, co-workers, and even strangers can get your creativity flowing when you’re at a loss individually.

  3. Enjoy your Work. Working towards a goal you’re passionate about in an environment you enjoy encourages creative thinking. When you care about your work, you’re going to be thinking about it a lot more than if you didn’t. This time spent reflecting and honing in on your work will reflect in your creative thinking skills.

  4. Do Research. Research isn’t only helpful when you have a goal in mind. Research can mean anything from doing keyword searches on Google to reading a great book. Sometimes, conducting loosely based research can give you a boost of creativity or a new idea. Even if it’s sparked from something seemingly unrelated.

  5. Pay Attention to Drifting Thoughts. Creativity can be anything that sprouts from our minds. You could be having a hundred incredible ideas for revolutionizing your company every day, and just don’t notice them before they slip away. Pay close attention to where your mind wanders during the day. Sometimes it’s best to investigate these thoughts a little deeper instead of pushing them away to complete the next task.

How to Think Creatively

Creativity can be intimidating. In a world with a population upwards of 7 billion people, how can anyone ever have a truly original thought? The truth is that creative thinking isn’t a tiny speck in the universe that nobody has ever discovered before. It’s a way of interpretation, and you can adjust your habits to improve your creativity. Consider the following ways to think more creatively.

  1. Ask lots of Questions. Willingness to learn contributes greatly to a person’s creativity. One of the best ways to learn more is by asking questions. Don’t save your questions for only supervisors and experts. Ask questions to many people and gather a collection of responses. Even if you don’t receive the answer or inspiration you’re looking for from one person, another may surprise you with their insight.

  2. Be Okay with Making Mistakes. Not every creative idea is a winner. The most innovative entrepreneurs know this well. If you’re not open to some of your ideas resulting in failure, you’ll never have the courage to try the ones that will succeed. Be resilient. Accept mistakes, and put them to good use by learning from them.

  3. Always be Brainstorming. While you should focus most of your energy on your main project, you should also always be brainstorming new ideas. Brainstorming, either by yourself or with others, is a valuable source of inspiration. Using this tool constantly keeps your creative thinking sharp and allows you to be open to future possibilities.

  4. Seek Challenges. Without overcoming challenges, we can never grow or improve. Seeking out new and rewarding challenges can help you think creatively by pushing you to boundaries you didn’t think possible. This doesn’t necessarily only have to be directly work-related either. Participating in outside activities can stimulate your creative thinking just as effectively.

  5. Possibilities for Challenges to Try Could Include:

    • Learning a new language

    • Participating in an improv class

    • Reading a book about Greek Philosophy

    • Joining a Sport team

    • Cooking a recipe you’ve never made before

    • Take an online course

    • Write a short story

Professions That Require Strong Creative Thinking Skills

  1. Writing. The writing realm is an expansive field that encompasses many different types of careers. Creativity drives captivating writing. Whether you’re a fiction author, copywriter, or blogger, creative thinking is essential for grabbing a reader’s attention and creating an interesting piece.

  2. Graphic Design. Graphic design is a booming industry that combines artistry with business. Successful graphic designers utilize creative thinking throughout their process. Creativity is necessary for graphic designers because a huge portion of their job is to create original, eye-catching visuals that effectively communicate an intended message.

  3. Sales and Marketing. Sales and marketing is another occupation where having creative thinking skills can greatly improve your work performance. The purpose of a salesperson or marketer is to sway a consumer towards purchasing a product or service. While you can always just present facts for why your dewcompany is superior to competitors, creativity is what really engages a customer. Half of the battle in marketing is grabbing consumer focus in the sea of advertisements and product promotions. Creativity is extremely helpful in overcoming the initial sales hurdle of capturing a buyer’s curiosity and interest.

How to Highlight Your Creative Thinking Skills

When applying for a job, it can be difficult to showcase your creativity. However, it is not impossible.

Like many skills, it is important to give specifics about creativity in your resume. Use buzzwords such as “analytics” and “mediation”, types of creativity that come in the workplace all the time, and pair them with data or examples that back up your claim.

Meanwhile, your cover letter and your job interview are great opportunities to show your creativity. Within your cover letter tell a story that shows how your creative mind works. In your job interview, present yourself as an open minded, multi-dimensional thinking person.

If you are lucky, some jobs also ask for a portfolio of your work. In this case, give them your best examples of your creative efforts.

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Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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