Dale Carnegie states that we should not “criticize, condemn or complain.” That can be hard advice to follow in the somewhat judgmental society we live in. It is important to realize why we are judging and criticizing, our true feelings behind it, and what we can do to change our behaviors.
We may judge because of our own interests. We may judge because we are comparing ourselves to others around us and feel inadequate to them. By cutting down another person, we are subconsciously trying to build ourselves up. We can also become critical when a person has not followed through with a task we have requested of them or show actions we do not agree with. Our own frustrations with ourselves can open the door to a critical attitude. If our lives are not meeting our expectations, we find faults in others to make up for it.
One we have realized our reasoning behind our criticisms it is important to change our behaviors and help cease future judgments. Figuratively and literally speaking, biting your tongue and taking time to think things through before speaking is an easy way to stop criticism. Taking the time to pick the right phrasing, turning statements into questions, can help your statement be less criticizing to who is receiving it. If you feel as if the conversation is not going to go anywhere, try a statement that closes the conversation in a respectful way. Something like “you may have handled that situation in the right way” does not say they were right or you were right. It is not criticizing and it drops the subject.
Ask questions to yourself before you speak as well. “Why do I feel the need to say this?” “What is it about this situation that is making me upset?” “Are you just trying to one-up the person?” Realizing the reason for your criticism and asking yourself questions allows yourself to cool down and make respectful comments to the person you want to criticize.
After all is said and done, build each other up. Think about the positive attributes the person holds, if you know them well enough. After you have been critical and have realized it, being humble enough to compliment the person on something they’re good at will keep you in their good graces. Try finding someone to hold you accountable to your good behavior or you can be accountable to yourself with a log or journal of your criticisms.
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