Could This Be You?
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Are you drawn to negative thoughts? Are you frequently returning to a critical mindset? Do you find yourself focusing on what people are doing wrong versus what they are doing well? It’s so insidious—this inner need to find fault. We end up like vultures returning to the carcass to pick at it until all that is left is a worthless pile of bones. I once knew a woman who said she had the gift of admonition. That’s right, she felt her “awareness” of what others were doing wrong, and her ability to bring it to their attention was some sort of spiritual gift. Well, having been on the receiving end on more than one occasion, I would like to politely disagree with her.

Now, in all fairness, I do believe some of us, myself included, may tend to be critical of people. Some of this can be attributed to our personality profiles. Some may come from our upbringing, but we need to stop and get a grip on our thought life. We need to realize that allowing this type of mindset to remain a focus in our life is our choice. That’s right; we choose to let ourselves think negative or critical thoughts about situations and other people. Since it is a choice, we can change. You might say, “It’s working, so why stop?” Well, you might think it’s working, but I bet you are only getting compliance with your demands at best. No creativity, no employee engagement, and at the first opportunity, that person will be gone. This reminds me of a sign I once saw, “The beatings will continue until the morale improves.”

Here are some other reasons to stop being so critical:

  • Nobody trusts a criticizer. People wonder what your motive is and why you find the need to be so critical.
  • People will stop listening to you. When you talk, they actually tune you out. I have seen this in action. As soon as the criticizer starts, people in the group make eye contact with each other, smirk, and put their heads down.
  • Criticism creates a negative environment, and people’s work performance drops 15% at a minimum.
  • Being overly critical blocks people from seeing your real value.
  • You may actually be hurting the people you love. That’s right. Research has shown that even a small amount of negative brain activity can lead to a weakened immune system, making people more prone to illness, and may even lead to a heart attack or a stroke.

Nike might say, “Just Do It,” but I want to say, “Just Stop It!” Stop being so critical of others. Begin to look for the good in every situation and every person. It might be hard. You might need to look for a long time, but it’s there. Deep inside the person or the situation.

If you would like to hear more on this topic, please join Marisa Norcross and me for Episode 161 of The Next Page podcast as we look at the dangers of being overly critical and what we can do to stop it.