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How to Stop Criticizing Others

Renuka Savant
Playing the blame game comes naturally to all of us. Is it so difficult to be the bigger person and look at stressful situations from a different perspective? For once, try to be the judge, without getting too judgmental.
Doesn't it feel great when we lash out at someone for being too silly/ insensitive/ unprofessional/ ignorant/ annoying, etc.? How many times have we criticized others for not matching up to our so-called standards? How many people have gotten on to our nerves because they are not us? Criticizing is easy and it makes us feel good within because we perceive someone to be at a lower level of excellence.
Reeks of unfairness, doesn't it? Criticizing is often used to release pent-up frustration. It is the person at the receiving end who has to endure the trauma, sometimes undeservingly so. It is sad how we never realize when our unending rants create a permanent distance in the relationship. It is time to pull up your socks and rid yourself of this consumptive habit.

How to Stop Judging and Criticizing People

"That was excellently observed', say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken." ~ Jonathan Swift
Where does criticism stem from? The primary source of criticism is expectation, in all probability. Don't we all like people to do things exactly the way we would do them?
A slight variation or a move away from the mundane becomes irksome. Whatever happened to being open-minded or accommodating? Yes, there are situations that demand exactitude, but does criticism help bring about a positive change?
It would be better, instead, if we try to identify the source of the trouble. You'd be surprised to find how more often than not, it points towards shortcomings within us. Mostly, it is our frustration, jealousy, anger or incompleteness that is the culprit.
"How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct." ~ Benjamin Disraeli
Criticizing is often a natural human response to variation. Since appreciation of innovation requires a big heart, criticism is used to mask our failure. This can happen, especially with people in positions of authority.
Take a moment to think - are we hurting the person with our harsh words? Are we inadvertently fostering resentment and rebellion? If we are, it negates the entire purpose of criticism. A better choice in such a case would be to offer a helping hand, rather than scathing words.
"He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help." ~ Abraham Lincoln
So does it mean we sweet-talk a deliberate wrongdoer every time? Definitely not. Constructive criticism can be discerned by a person who is willing to accept his/her mistakes and correct them.
If you really wish to reform a person, try telling him/her how to do things right, instead of harping on and on about his/her inadequacy. In the case of repeat offenders, criticism can be the worst tool one can think of using. Their repeated failures are proof of them being either incompetent or just plain impish.
"Don't criticize what you don't understand, son. You never walked in that man's shoes." ~ Elvis Presley
Golden words, these. The fact is that we live a life that is ours. The troubles that come our way are ours. Every individual is blessed with the ability to make his/her decisions.
We humans always judge a person for being too hasty or too laid-back, too foolish or over smart with the choices he/she makes in life. It's easy to say, "I would've never done that", when you've never found yourself in that situation in the first place.
We need to respect every person's ability to deal with his/her problems and not think of ourselves to be God and be judgmental of whatever decision others take.
"As a matter of fact, we are none of us above criticism, so let us bear with each other's faults." ~ L. Frank Baum
A cup of hot coffee and a cream donut tastes best when we have the company of friends along with some juicy gossip to go with it. Being judgmental about another's choices in clothing, dating and working is so good, that it gets addictive.
But would we really like a world that is full of our clones? Individuality sets us apart from the other members of the animal family. Unfortunately, it is this trait that makes us go yak, yak, yak in retaliation. The next time you think you've spotted a blunder, stop the urge to criticize. Instead, thank the stars it's not you.
"When virtues are pointed out first, flaws seem less insurmountable." ~ Miss Manners (Judith Martin)
Sugar-coated criticism may not be easy to dispense, but is always easy to digest. Most people like to know that they are not complete nincompoops, incapable of being trusted with the easiest of tasks.
Before rushing on to the wrongs, take a moment to appreciate the effort the person has put in, more than anything else. After all, wouldn't you like your mistakes to be dealt with, in the same way?
We all understand that criticizing is an inseparable part of human nature. We need to be cautious and sparing in its use. Easier said than done, criticizing cannot be stopped with one swish of a magic wand. It requires a massive amount of effort and tons of patience.
Sadly, saintly qualities like these are not usually bestowed upon us mortals; in fact, providence has an annoying way of putting these qualities to test now and then. If we look at it as a chance of being a guide to others, it might help us tone down the criticism by a notch.