“Under my coat is a weary heart but a kind one. One that would do no one any harm.” – Francis Crowley
Francis Crowley was also known as “2 Gun” Crowley and had killed and injured dozens of people. If you’ve read How to Win Friends and Influence People then you’ll know the story. He was executed and was quoted as saying: “This is what I get for defending myself?”
If criminals can’t take responsibility for their own actions what chance do us normal people have? As humans we justify our actions, we can’t bear to think of ourselves as bad people so we say we did bad things because something made us or the circumstances couldn’t be helped.
Hopefully you can see where Dale Carnegie is going with this. Criticising is utterly pointless because people will never accept their faults. What’s more, unless the person your criticising is remarkably self-aware and well balanced they’re probably just going to get upset. Most likely with you.
The central point of this principle is that criticising is utterly pointless. Worse than that it is actively making things worse. No matter how justified.
But you’re probably thinking whoa! What about constructive criticism? Well criticism is only constructive if it’s requested. If someone doesn’t ask then don’t criticise.
Here’s where some other HTWF principles help us out. Rather than point out people’s bad points you can;
- Praise improvement.
- Give honest and sincere appreciation about good points.
- Throw down a challenge to encourage them to improve themselves.
We all have annoying things that happen to us. So why shouldn’t we vent our emotions? Here’s a few reasons;
- Complaining wastes energy you could otherwise use productively
- Do you enjoy listening to people complaining to you? No. So why give people a reason to dislike you?
- When you complain you give a signal to others that it’s ok. This can lead to a culture of negativity.
- An emotion will typically pass in 1.5 minutes. Unless you keep that emotion alive by reliving the memory. By complaining you’re prolonging your anger or frustration.
- According to research complaining kills neurons in your brain’s hippocampus. That’s the area of the brain responsible for problem solving. So complaining actually makes you stupider.
Ask yourself is there really a problem? Maybe you’re complaining about something in the past that doesn’t matter anymore. If there is still a problem then concentrate on the solution to the problem.
Be a Doer, Not a Critic
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt