Unlock your analytical intelligence for future career growth
What do Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Abraham Lincoln have in common? They're all seen as highly developed analytical thinkers, due to being curious, detail-oriented, and thorough in their work. The process of decision-making by those with analytical intelligence is often guided by scientific, mathematical, and social principles. They also tend to thoroughly weigh up the pros and cons, and refer to detailed data, before taking any action.
The definition of analytical intelligence
Analytical intelligence is the ability to complete academic and problem solving tasks, such as those that are commonly used in standardised tests designed to assess human intelligence - often known as IQ (intelligence quotient) tests. These types of tasks usually present well-defined problems with a single correct answer.
When you analyse something, you, “examine in detail in order to discover meaning and essential features,” while intelligence is defined as, “the capacity for understanding; the ability to perceive and comprehend meaning”, according to the Collins English Dictionary.
So what does analytical intelligence mean?
It's all about analysing, evaluating, and thinking critically. A short and sweet explanation is the ability to complete academic tasks and solve problems - traits which are extremely sought after in today's crowded job market.
Its importance lies in the fact that analytical intelligence is needed to encode, store, process, remember, and use information correctly. That means analysing how you think and act, while constantly stretching those grey cells to their limit.
What are the 3 main types of intelligence?
According to the triarchic theory of intelligence, which was formulated by American Psychologist Robert Sternberg, in the 1980s, there are three forms of intelligence - analytical, practical, and creative. His theory dispels the view of intelligence from a psychometric approach, which only takes IQ tests and academic achievement into account. Sternberg cited two other types, that cover how smartly people adapt to, select, and shape real-world environments throughout their lives.
Practical intelligence is the ability to adapt to the every day by drawing upon existing knowledge and skills, enabling the individual to fully comprehend what needs to be done within a specific setting, and then going the right way to achieve that.
Creative intelligence, also known as synthetic intelligence, is when you can successfully deal with new and unusual situations by drawing on your existing skills and knowledge. Individuals with a high level of creative intelligence may give “wrong” answers during an IQ test because they see things in a different way.
Analytical intelligence, already discussed above, is what some see as the “normal” type of intelligence, and the one that's most easily graded and documented with tests.
Possessing a combination of all three is key to your success. But it's not enough to just have them; you need to be able to know when to use each one as well.
But what about emotional intelligence, I hear you cry? It's a buzz phrase at the moment, and the Collins English Dictionary defines it as being able to, “perceive, interpret, demonstrate, control, evaluate, and use emotions to communicate with and relate to others effectively and constructively.” While being incredibly important, it isn't part of the triarchic theory of intelligence.
There are other types of intelligence as well, such as interpersonal intelligence, which are explored in some of our other articles.
Examples of analytical intelligence
Because most of the time we're simply not analysing how our brains work, we often don't realise how smart we really are. A lot of it, hopefully, comes naturally. Check out the bullet points below and see how many of these analytical intelligence examples you can tick…
You're outstanding at analysing from a theoretical perspective
You're able to seamlessly evaluate the pros and cons in any given situation
You explain theoretical and abstract ideas in an easy-to-understand way
You compare and contrast ideas easily
You're excellent at critiquing ideas and judging various aspects of a certain subject matter
You're able to envisage long term solutions to complex problems
Analytical intelligence incorporates being able to compare and contrast the analysis of a subject or a viewpoint. While this can vary from appreciating a piece of art to resolving a complex problem, it's the exercising of analytical abilities that forms the crucial aspects.
How to develop your analytical intelligence
Good things come to those who wait… and work hard for it. If you want to strengthen and improve on your analytical skills, which are useful both in the workplace and in life generally, there are a few things you can do to help.
1. Exercise your brain
Improve analytical skills by engaging in “brain games.” These include logic puzzles such as Sudoku, crosswords, and riddles, strategic games like chess and draughts, and board games including Scrabble.
These might even have a double whammy effect by boosting your cognitive ability as well.
2. Take on maths problems
Channel your secondary school self by practising and solving complicated maths problems that involve algebra, calculus, and long division. It might take you back a few years, reminding you of the distinct smell of your old school classroom, but persevere and it'll be worth it. Maths is logical, and the problems are structured in such a way that you have all the information to hand to be able to reach the right solution.
3. Join a book group or debating club
These groups provide the opportunity to explore ideas, literature, and problems within a congenial atmosphere, with the chance to learn how to express yourself better. Debating is a great way to expand and hone your analytical skills, because your perspective and arguments will be challenged by others who have different opinions.
4. Create a wider knowledge base
The more we learn and know about the world, the more we have in our armoury to be able to understand and solve problems.
Consider reading widely, but not just focusing on narrow subjects or genres
Subscribe to magazines that inform you about the world around us
Attend academic talks and lectures
Enrol in college or take part in educational classes within the local community
5. Take the time to think
Instead of reaching for your phone every time you're bored, take a moment to think, let your mind wander, and consider different scenarios. Instead of making rash decisions, think things through and note how other factors can help you to hone your analytical and problem solving abilities.
6. Expand your view of the world
This can be through travel, understanding different religions and cultures, or stepping outside your normal political views to consider the opposites. If you can, surround yourself with people from different backgrounds so that you can explore ideas that differ from your norm.
7. Look for connections
That doesn't mean on LinkedIn! It's about searching for things that connect with each other, such as the seasons and migrating birds, as this gets your brain to think analytically.
8. Pay attention to the detail
Specifics are vital when developing analytical skills. When meeting someone for the first time, for example, commit their name to memory and take in those features that make them unique.
9. Question the way things are
Don't just take the easy way out; keep questioning and challenging. If a work colleague is being disruptive, take the time to figure out why and think about the possible reasons behind their behaviour.
Putting it all into action
Challenge yourself every day
Using analytical intelligence on a daily basis will keep you sharp and ensure that you perform at your best, whether that's at work or at play. For example, if you need to tot up the shopping bill, do the maths in your head instead of reaching for a calculator.
Take on new responsibilities
With these improved analytical skills, you'll be firing on all cylinders to take on new responsibilities. Reach for that new promotion you've been after or go for that enticing job, even if it means venturing out of your comfort zone.
Now you need to let your analytical intelligence shine through on your CV. Not sure how to present this correctly? Find out the best ways by submitting your CV for a free CV review and letting the experts guide you on the right path to success.