Don't criticize, condemn or complain

May 27, 2011 book 2 min read

This post is part of my weekly study of How To Win Friends and Influence People.

Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.

Dale Carnegie

I’m amazed at how natural it is to criticize, condemn and complain. As we converse, it is expected that we spend most of our time complaining about our present circumstances and the incompetence of the people around us. It seems as if most of our social interactions consist of this ridiculous ritual that accomplishes nothing. We don’t leave these conversations feeling better about ourselves, nor do they do anything to improve the situation.

In practicing this advice this week, the biggest difference I’ve noticed is not the impact it’s had on those around me, but how it’s changed my own attitude. Where I would normally assume that someone’s mistakes were the results of mal-intent or incompetence, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think that just because I’m doing this “no criticizing” thing; I genuinely believe that the people I interact with are doing their best.

Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.

Abraham Lincoln

This quote has been running through my mind over and over this week. I think it’s easy for us to identify the way that other people have failed, but if you were asked to do their job, you would fail in as many ways or more.

Try not criticizing or complaining this week, I think you’ll be surprised at the impact.

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avatar of Brandon Keepers I am Brandon Keepers, and I work at GitHub on making Open Source more approachable, effective, and ubiquitous. I tend to think like an engineer, work like an artist, dream like an astronaut, love like a human, and sleep like a baby.