Don’t Criticize, Condemn, or Complain

Most folks know that I am a bit of a Carneholic.  That's a Dale Carnegie-aholic.  "Hello, my name is Kev, and I'm a Carneholic."  Whether I'm speaking onstage on Online or Offline Networking, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or anything else (and God knows I fall into some rabbit holes), you can bet your life that at some point in my speaking or training engagement, the Carneholic will emerge.  This is because Dale's book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" has made such a major difference in my life.  And not just my life, but a lot of other people's lives also.
One of the Carnegie maxims is "Don't Criticize, Condemn or Complain".  This is profoundly simple wisdom.  And something that should be taught to every child from the moment of their birth.  We become like the people we associate with whether we're young or old.  And most of society is pretty darn negative.  So it's only natural that as we grow up we tend to get negative and cynical.  Carnegie understood that we tend to avoid people who are a pain to be around.  And people who criticize, condemn or complain tend to be a pain to be around.  At a conscious and also a subliminal level we like to be around positive people.
Regardless of how tempting it may be to participate in a negative conversation, try to resist.  It may be tough and you may fall into one again and again, but realize that it gets easier over time.  The fish doesn't know it's wet.  Most folks have no idea how negative they actually are, just like a fish doesn't even know that it's wet.  It's been in the water so long it doesn't even think about it.  And we're so immersed in negativity, they we don't even realize it most of the time.  Who said "the unreflected life is not worth living"?  Shakespeare, Plato, Pee Wee Herman?  I can't keep them straight.  Whoever it was, they were right.  The only way we can change habits is to start being aware of them.  Set a goal for a day to monitor whether you're criticizing, condemning or complaining.  You may be surprised.
Whether it's in the context of networking, dealing with co-workers, your spouse, your kids, whoever…we're always dealing with people.  And our joy, success and results in life are hugely dependent on our ability to get along with people.  Only in a huge way.  Set a goal to see how long you can go without criticizing, condemning or complaining.  Set a personal record and then keep striving to break the previous record.  You will find that you become much more conscious of your and other peoples' speech patterns.  And as you work toward removing these stumbling blocks to effective relationship building you'll also enjoy your relationships more and more.  And that makes it all worth it.

Comments 10

  1. Adam Beckett

    Hi Kevin, last night pretty much the last thing I read was "Father Forgets", that very moving piece by W.Livingston Larned.
    There's a little kid in all of us that needs love and appreciation, no matter how big and strong and Professional we are.
    I'm leafing through Mr. Carnegie's famous book for the second time; thank you for reminding me that I need to revisit that guide to living from time to time.
    Kevin, this is a great blog that serves up some fundamental truths.
    Best wishes

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