Do not criticize, condemn, or complain.

Do not criticize, condemn, or complain.  (Principle #1)

Dale Carnegie

Commentary by Joanne Wellington

It is quite natural that at times some people around us may do certain things that upset us very much. Our intellect may perfectly justify that their actions are wrong, inefficient, or simply foolish. The natural response from our side is then be to criticize, condemn or complain about the other person’s actions. Criticizing gives us an opportunity to blow some steam. It temporarily makes us feel really good. However more often than not, it does not serve one bit in making the situation and the relationship any better. Why is that so?

This is because whatever a person does, his ego automatically justifies it. Most criminals, including the ones who are perfectly sane mentally, hardly experience any guilt and remorse, however serious their crimes. Their ego and intellect perfectly justifies all their actions. This type of defense mechanism is built into each one of us – we are all setup to defend our actions fully, as our ego never wants to make us wrong. People simply do not like to hear that they did anything wrong intentionally.

It follows then that when we criticize, condemn or complain about the actions of others, what most likely happens is that we will trigger the other person’s defense mechanism. Criticism wounds a persons pride, hurts his sense of importance, and thus arouses anger and resentment. It can demoralize family members, friends, and employees, while not helping one bit in correcting the situation at hand. More often than not, the person we criticize simply finds a way to justify his actions and in turn give some criticism back to us. In some cases the consequences of our criticism can be very serious, and come back haunting at us.

Animals that are regarded for good behaviour learn much more rapidly and retain what they learn more effectively than an animal punished for bad behaviour. The same works with humans as well – It is far more easier to correct people’s actions by speaking positively of the things that they do right, rather than what they do wrong.  Positive reinforcement works miracles with everyone – children and adults alike. A wise man thus knows to skillfully handle the egos of people around him.  He is able to present facts in a way that does not offend others. He puts more effort in understanding the reasons behind other people’s actions – as he fully realizes how futile it is to criticize, condemn, and complain.