Why I don’t waste time criticizing people.

People who are constantly criticizing others are typically insecure and because of this, they focus their attention on other people instead of being reflective about themselves. When you come across someone like this in the office, steer the other way, as they probably have already taken on the reputation of being a negative person, and who wants to be around “Debbie Downers”? No one, and it is not advisable to be around them, as others could also perceive you are this way too. However, what if you have tendencies of being overly critical of others and do not realize this?

Let’s take a virtual walk around your office and come up with some scenarios of interactions you might be having with others. The first scenario takes place in the morning shortly after you have arrived at work. You exchange your pleasantries with others, or so you think, as you may not have realized you provided negative commentary on an interaction you just had with one of your other colleagues about what they told you they did over the weekend. Did you need to be judgmental about what they did and share your opinion with others? Let’s say…..no, you did not.

The next scenario involves talking with one of your colleagues post a meeting you were both in. Instead of providing constructive feedback or potentially something positive about the meeting and the person who was running it, you criticized the person for how they delivered the information, and about how you did not like the meeting format.

Another interaction which is ripe for negative people to spread their criticism is during the afternoon walk around the building. These walks are generally short walks, and can be highly refreshing and opportunities to have upbeat conversations. However, if you are an overly critical person, you tend to leverage this interaction to share your negative commentary on whomever you have recently interacted with. Does this sound like you, or someone you work with?

If you are “the” person who is highly critical of others and do not realize this, there are ways to determine you are behaving this way, and to course correct on this type of behavior.  Here are ways to first recognize you are behaving this way:

  1. After interacting with someone, think about the conversation you had with them. Did the conversation involve passing judgement on another person in a negative format?
  2. Consider the interactions you have had the last few days. After the interactions did you feel better, neutral or worse after you spoke to your colleagues? If you felt better or neutral, was there a positive outcome from the conversations you had, or did you simply feel relieved about sharing your opinion on someone?
  3. If you had to rate your conversations with others like you were rating a restaurant on Yelp, what rating would you give yourself and why?
  4. Are there situations or people who “trigger” your overly critical nature? Begin to recognize whether these are routinely happening, or only periodically.

and here are some tips on how to stop being overly critical of others:

  • Write down positive things you can share and say about others you work with, then sprinkle these positive expressions into your conversations with others. Did you notice if the person you were sharing this information with reacted differently?
  • Create a list of the typical things you converse with others about. Categorize these topics and take a look at what percentage of them are critical versus being constructive or positive. Do this exercise for one week to work towards changing the conversational type of exchange you have been having.
  • Ask someone you are friends with outside of your office if they think you have tendencies to be overly critical of others. If they are a true friend, they will be honest with you and tell you that you are. Do not be mad at them for being honest with you, and instead thank them for their candidness.
  • Challenge yourself to work towards being a less critical person, and check your progress from week to week to see if you recognize you are decreasing your negative commentary about others or situations.

No one sets out to be overly critical of others, and sometimes behaving this way is also a result of picking up this bad behavior from observing others who might be doing the same thing. The trick to becoming less critical and ultimately more fun to be around, is to acknowledge you might be this way, and then to work towards overcoming this bad habit. Once you become less critical of others, you will become a much happier person when you are conveying complimentary comments about others versus the negative verbal exchanges you are accustomed to expressing.

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