Could You Go A Week Without Criticizing, Condemning Or Complaining? I Couldn’t.

Your enthusiasm and positive response toward last week’s Dale Carnegie post blew me away! I am thrilled so many of you read it and took the time to send your comments, questions, and follow-up thoughts in response. Based on the number of times I sent the link to the Southeast Florida in-person training calendar, we will be welcoming several new Dale Carnegie alumni this year.

I was also pleasantly surprised that some of you committed to reading How To Win Friends & Influence People with me and applying one principle a week. I can’t wait to hear your perspective as we reflect on the lessons of each chapter. Everyone is welcome to join us! Simply write your feedback in the comments section of each post or engage with me on Twitter.

Last Monday I read the first chapter, “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive,” wherein Dale Carnegie explains why it is disadvantageous to criticize, condemn or complain. He shares anecdotes of how human reasoning and pride convince even the worst of criminals that their wrongdoings are justifiable. (“Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and and usually makes him strive to justify himself.”) He concludes by encouraging us to try to understand people, instead of condemning them, listing Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin as examples to follow.

I began the week optimistic about my ability to apply the first principle, but by 12:35 p.m. on Monday I was already throwing shade at my parents on Twitter:


Then, at work on Tuesday, I complained for 10 minutes straight about a meddling co-worker before I realized what I was doing and pulled the break. I was so embarrassed at myself afterward that I managed to keep all of Wednesday complaint-free, relapsing on Thursday when Trump withdrew from the Paris Accord and I was swept away by a sea of complaints on both sides of the aisle.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I did pretty well—focusing on praising the good, rather than condemning the bad, and going as far as to share my newfound attitude with the Twittersphere:


I’m proud to report that I have managed to keep it up through today. Admittedly, most of my success has been in not voicing my criticism and complaints out loud, but shouldn’t we reward my progress instead of punishing my imperfect execution?

Not criticizing, condemning or complaining is harder than you think. In fact, based on my observations over the last week, I suspect it may be our default behavior. It is going to take conscious effort, as well as substantial self-discipline to break the bad habit. If I’m honest with myself, I will probably be working at it for the rest of my life. What about you? Could you go a week without criticizing, condemning or complaining?

Before I conclude, a huge thanks to Dani Veras for the very apropos featured image. It nailed my feelings about the struggle to get through Principle 1. And now, for your quote of the day:

“Any fool can criticize, condemn or complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” —Dale Carnegie

4 thoughts on “Could You Go A Week Without Criticizing, Condemning Or Complaining? I Couldn’t.

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