Are You’re To Critical?

I’m betting there are a whole lot of people who, even if they are reading this sentence, are only paying partial attention to it.

 

They are only partially focused on it because they can’t get past the poor spelling in the title. The two mistakes in the title have tainted the entire post for them. Some people won’t read the post at all because of the grammar issues. They assume that there is little to learn from anyone who uses “you’re” where “your” should have been used. Using “to” in place of “too” likely sent them over the edge. 

 

Thank you to those of you who have hung around long enough to give me a chance to explain. 

 

The “mistakes” in the title are not really mistakes. I used those words to make a point. The point is that when we are too critical of other people we lose the opportunity to learn from them.

 

The most open minded successful people look past imperfections and use what they can to learn from everyone they meet. They realize that just because someone may misuse a word here and there or misspell a word now and then it doesn’t mean that everything they say or write should be dismissed. 

 

No one is perfect, no one knows everything and everyone makes mistakes. It doesn’t mean that they are not knowledgeable or that their opinion is less valuable than anyone else’s. 

 

The most successful people and the most effective leaders know that everyone knows something that they don’t. That means they can learn from anyone and that’s exactly what they do. 

 

Every viewpoint and opposing opinion teaches you something if you can keep an open mind. In fact, you’ll learn more from people who think differently than you then you’ll ever learn from people who think just like you. 

 

Yes, typos, misspelled and misused words distract from the message. Using the wrong word in a presentation or a sentence lessens it’s impact but….. for a leader those are coaching opportunities, not a reason to dismiss the entire message. It most certainly does not diminish the value of the person making the mistake.  


Anybody can find fault with someone else, it takes a leader to see the strengths in everyone. If you’re focusing too much on the mistakes of others you’re also making it much harder to learn from what they do well. That is YOUR mistake and one that YOU should work on before you try eliminating the mistakes of others.

Don’t Criticize, Condemn, or Complain.

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It’s the first principle in Dale Carnegie’s Book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. Of all the 30 principles of the revised edition (the original 1936 publication had some additional principles and chapters) I believe it is the hardest principle to live by. It is also the most life changing.

As a Dale Carnegie employee for several years I read that principle repeatedly. I taught it in classes and workshops over and over. I believe in that principle. Yet… I criticize, condemn and complain with great regularity.

I complain about the same stuff again and again, I have to because I have so little in my life to actually complain about. I criticize other people for doing the same things I do (it’s okay when I do it) and I condemn people and things after making judgments about them with little or no information – just my opinion.

Gee, I as read what I just wrote I realize how bad that makes me sound. However, I take comfort in this fact: the odds are overwhelming that almost everyone reading this is just like me!

We focus on what is wrong rather than what is right. We waste time worrying about all the things we can’t control while failing to control the things we can.

We miss so much of the good in the world and our lives when we think and talk about the bad. On our worst days, 99% of it is still great.

My dad is one of the oldest surviving heart transplant recipients in the world. He received his new heart in 1986 and since that time he has had a unique philosophy on life – if he wakes up, it is a great day. That’s a philosophy we can all live by.

So, as you begin planning for your successful 2013 (you will plan, won’t you?) remember to block out a few minutes each morning (YES, every morning) to reflect on the positives in your life. When you force yourself to do that you will likely be surprised at just how much there is to reflect on.

One of the most important choices you make each day is the choice of your attitude. Reflecting on life’s positives makes choosing a good attitude a whole lot easier.

Think Before You Criticize

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Criticism can have a huge and sometimes crushing impact on people. Too often, in our anger and displeasure, we lash out and tell people what we think of their performance or judgment. Too often as well, we don’t think of the possible consequences or outcomes before we say it.

It’s true that sometimes, it’s absolutely necessary to let others know when they haven’t met certain criteria. The next time you feel the need to criticize, consider the following:

Is the criticism absolutely necessary? Ask yourself, “am I angry because I’m having a bad day, or do I really need to address this behavior with this person?” Perhaps it’s both and in that case wait until your anger subsides before addressing the issue.

Whatever the situation, take a deep breath and carefully choose your words. If you say the first thing that comes to your mind, you’ll often regret it. When you think for a moment before speaking, you’ll find that you use words that are less harsh and more appropriate to the situation. Remember that we can’t take back what we have already said.

In your heart you know the difference between “ripping” on someone and providing them with constructive criticism. When you can transfer that knowledge from your heart to your head you will have the chance to truly lead.