How to Develop Critical Thinking?

Being a critical thinker is necessary both as a UPSC aspirant and Civil Service Officer. Critical thinking may not be hereditary or an innate quality; it is a quality that we can develop over time. Critical thinking involves objective and effective analysis of a situation or issue to form an unbiased judgment. It is required for writing your answers, your Personality Test or Interview, and finally, your profession as an officer. These are some practices that can help you evolve into a critical thinker:

- Ask Yourself Questions: Some of our beliefs are embedded into us since childhood and we fail to question them. You should try and break through this and ask yourself the questions that are simple yet tough. Ask the basic questions of ‘why?’ and ‘how?’; don’t just accept everything as-is without reasoning. As you dig for answers, your brain evolves.

- Draw Your Own Conclusions: Whenever you read about an ongoing issue, avoid being satisfied with others’ conclusions. If you read a news piece, think about your personal input to the article in hand. The key here is to ‘think for yourself’. Acknowledge what others have to say but draw your own conclusion.

- Debate With Yourself: The world is full of debatable topics; take them up one by one and start debating with yourself. Counter your own views. It helps in avoiding egocentrism which is an obstacle in critical thinking and also helps in becoming unbiased towards issues.

- Be a Listener: To be a speaker, you need to listen first. Every single person counts and they are eligible to share their opinions, even if they might go against yours. Be tolerant and look at the issue while standing in their shoes to understand the different dimensions of the situation better.

- Analyse and Research: These two go hand in hand. The information at hand needs to be properly analysed and checked, then you should research on it to dig the deepest grounds and expand the available information.

- Practice Divergent and Convergent Thinking: The best way to reach conclusions and become a critical thinker is through these two kinds of thinking which happen simultaneously. Divergent thinking allows you to expand your mind and be innovative to find every possible solution there can be. Once you have listed all the possible solutions, you need to use convergent thinking to narrow down on the ideas and choose the most suitable one.

- Reverse Thinking: It has been proven by scientists that one of the most effective ways of solving a problem is by reversing it. Look at it from the other side – a trick also used to think out of the box.

- Interact With Diverse Groups of People: This helps in understanding the viewpoints of people across different age groups, cultures, and sexes. You learn to acknowledge that no one is wrong; everyone may be right from where they stand. Acceptance and knowledge help in thinking analytically by avoiding your own bias and preconceived notions, keeping emotions aside, and also becoming a better and more understanding person, one who knows how to have their own opinion while respecting others’ views.

- Read Books: Last but not the least, read books across different genres and eras of literature. There is never a book that fails to teach something new. Reading opens up the mind and makes the empty space a treasure house of knowledge.