How to Improve Your Deductive Reasoning Skills (With Examples and Tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated February 11, 2021 | Published December 12, 2019
Updated February 11, 2021
Published December 12, 2019
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
The ability to apply deductive reasoning effectively in the workplace can improve your performance, allowing you to reach decisions more rapidly and with greater confidence. This valuable skill can be applied in a variety of ways, from client relationship management to conflict resolution. Improving your deductive reasoning skills can take time and practice. In this article, we explain what deductive reasoning is and give examples of how it can be applied in the workplace. We also provide some tips for how you can enhance your own deductive reasoning skills.
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What is deductive reasoning?
Deductive reasoning is a type of reasoning that starts out with a general statement of a hypothesis and then uses that statement to reach a logical conclusion. Deductions are inferences that must be true. So if you assume that the general statement, the hypothesis, must be true, the second statement must also be true. This is called a deductive conclusion.
This type of reasoning is commonly used in the workplace, where employees are guided by their knowledge of the company, industry and relevant trends and use that information to make decisions and solve problems. For example, a company that sells nail polish assumes that professional women are overloaded with family and work responsibilities and are often short on time.
From this, they deduce that they would be successful in marketing a nail polish product that can be applied like a sticker and dries in a fraction of the time compared to their competitors.
Deductive reasoning examples applied in the workplace
Here are several situations where you might be required to use deductive reasoning skills in the workplace.
Employees can use deductive reasoning to come up with logical solutions to problems that are impacting an organization. To do this, you will first need to ask questions to form the premise of your argument, the statement that you are holding as truth.
Example: You realized your furniture company is spending a lot of money each month buying fuel for your delivery truck and you want to change your budget to reflect a more appropriate amount for fuel costs. Some information you’ll need to know includes how many deliveries your truck typically makes each month and how many miles each trip is, in general. You’ll also need to know how many miles the truck gets, on average, per gallon of gas and whether your deliveries have been consistent month after month.
Let’s say that after answering these questions, you know that your truck makes an average of two deliveries per day, five days per week. It covers an average of 600 miles each month on average. If the price of gas is three dollars per gallon and the delivery truck gets 10 miles per gallon of gas, you can conclude that you will need to budget $180 per month for gas. To test your conclusion, allocate $180 for the next month and see if the budget covers the cost of gas.
Addressing client concerns
To use deductive reasoning to address a client’s concern, you’ll need to establish some information related to the problem. For example, you will need to find out if the client was dissatisfied with a product or service and why. You will also need to find out what you can do to rectify the situation.
Example: You are working on a client’s marketing campaign and the client is unhappy. After speaking with the client, you have established that they are unhappy because they haven’t heard from the project manager in weeks and don’t know what the progress is with their campaign or what the results are for what has been done. Using this information, you can form two premises: that the client is unhappy and that their unhappiness is the result of poor communication.
From this, you can deduce that regular communication will keep the client happy. Having formed this deduction, you then can instruct your team to start sending weekly status reports to the client and feel confident that the problem will be resolved.
Resolve conflicts between employees
You can use deductive reasoning to resolve conflicts between employees as well. Since deductive reasoning requires you to form conclusions based on knowledge, you’ll first need to gather information related to the conflict.
Example: You have noticed that for the last month, two team members have forgotten to send status reports to a client. When you speak to the two of them, you learn that they each thought the other was responsible for sending the report. When you ask what method they use to decide who is responsible for sending the status update, you quickly learn that they have no system for sharing the responsibility.
Using this information, you can form two premises: that they often forget to send the status update and that they have no method for determining who will send it each week. From this, you deduce that if they had a method, they would remember to send the client their update. You recommend that moving forward, the last person to leave the office on Friday is responsible for finalizing and sending the status update. Based on the two premises, you can deduce that they will send the report every Friday moving forward.
Inductive vs. deductive:
Inductive reasoning is the act of making generalized conclusions based on specific scenarios.
Deductive reasoning is the act of backing up a generalized statement with specific scenarios.
Tips for improving deductive reasoning skills
Anyone can train themselves to have strong deductive reasoning skills. Here are some tips for how you can improve upon your own.
Increase your knowledge.
Break problems into smaller pieces.
Curiosity helps you gather information, which is what you use to create premises on which you can form deductions. If you observe anything you understand, ask questions. Also, see what you can deduce from the information you already have.
Observations help you gather information. As you make observations, try to analyze and understand them. Observation is an important skill to master to develop your deductive reasoning abilities.
Increase your knowledge
The more knowledge you gather, the better equipped you will be to make connections between information and form useful conclusions. Listen to podcasts, read books and stay up-to-date on industry trends.
Break problems into smaller pieces
Break the knowledge you have down into small pieces and then see if you can form any premises from those pieces.
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