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Are We Too Quick To Criticize?

January 14, 2011

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned since I first joined the working world is this:

Never complain about something or present a problem without offering a solution.

Too often are we quick to criticize, grumble, nitpick and nag. Too often do we turn the other way when we’re presented a problem we can’t immediately fix. And too often do we join the masses before daring to take that step forward and go against the grain.

I’ll 100% admit that I’ve been at fault for all three of the above more times than I care to count. It’s easier to turn a blind eye and, while it pains me to say this, sometimes it’s easier not to have to think. Does that get me or anyone else committing these crimes anywhere? No. In fact, it’s gotten me into quite the pickle on several occasions. I know it too. I know when I’m turning away, tuning out or complaining along with my peers, coworkers and friends that I’m hurting myself more than anyone else. I also know that when I encounter a problem and idly sit by without offering up a solution that I’m taking 10 giant steps backward. I take no comfort in knowing that I’m not alone. It’s happened to you and it’s probably happened to the person in the coffee shop, standing in line behind you.

So, why do we do it? And has the prevalence of our crimes increased since the introduction of the social network after social network?

With regards to the latter…my jury is still out (probably sitting on a fence somewhere). Part of me wants to say yes and part of me wants to say no. I’m leaning towards yes.

As for the first … the answer should be clear. Fear. Doubt. A need to belong. That’s why we do it. We fear being wrong and we fear being the target of that “arrives before we have time to blink” criticism. We doubt ourselves because at some point in our lives we were told we were wrong. And lastly, there is that part within each of us that always yearns to belong and fit in.

BUT…when we are brave and confident enough to put fear and doubt aside and take the reins we’re reminded that we are good enough, smart enough.

SO…

Be the person who finds something to praise when everyone else complains.

Be the person who offers an idea or a solution when the rest of the room falls silent.

Be the person to walk forward while everyone else takes a giant leap backward.

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