Cognitive Skills in the Workplace

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Cognition is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. This is a particularly important concept in the workplace, where employees with cognitive skillsets can make all the difference. A few of the essential cognitive demands of the workplace include communication, thinking, and learning. It is simple for most anyone to routinely go through the motions of a task, but it takes a complex set of cognitive skills to think critically, act logically and effectively apply information.

According to Learning RX, attention skills, memory, logic and reasoning, auditory processing, visual processing and processing speed are all examples of cognitive skills. These differ from behavioral psychological qualities, which are acquired through interaction with and responding to environmental stimuli. In other words, behavioral qualities are determined by individuals’ responses to the surrounding environment, which shapes their behavior. Instead, cognition accounts for internal influences on one’s behavior and actions, such as moods, thoughts, and emotions. For cognitive psychologists, an action is a point from which to abstract the mental processes behind behavior. Rather than trying to figure out why an action or behavior is as such, cognitive skills help to understand the how.

Possessing a cognitive skillset provides numerous benefits to the workplace. When an individual displays excellent cognitive abilities, it allows them to effectively use technology, instruments, tools and information. Furthermore, they can understand and resolve problems, and then use and apply the results. This can positively impact the workplace, where preventing issues from recurring is vital to productivity and efficiency. Many places of employment administer cognitive skill assessments to evaluate current and/or prospective employees. A cognitive individual will have great attention skills, which includes the capability of multi-tasking and working through distractions, and both a good short-term and long-term memory. The image below, Bloom’s Classification of Cognitive Skills from ENMU.edu, helps to categorize, understand and associate cognitive skills with individuals.

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Fortunately for those who have weaker cognitive abilities, there are ways to improve cognition. Researches suggest that engaging in physical activity, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress levels can significantly strengthen an individual’s cognition. Additionally, meditating, keeping open to experiences, and being social will help to improve these skills. One of the most popular, and entertaining, ways for people to boost their cognition is to play “brain training games.” These allow one to train and test the brain in a various skill, such as memory or speed.

For more information, or to improve your own cognitive skills, you can click on the following links:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201403/eight-habits-improve-cognitive-function

http://greatist.com/happiness/47-ways-boost-brainpower-now

http://www.brainmetrix.com/

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