How to be less critical

Recently I wrote a post on how to deal with a critical person. I received a question, with the opposite problem. How do you become less critical? And he’s not the only one who wants to be less critical.

Bite your tongue

My friend Linda suggests:

“The thing I do is tell myself to bite my tongue and not point things out.. or if I really do want to criticize, I try to reword it more kindly into a question for what could have been done another (MY) way.. *g* rather than straight on pointing out what he didn’t do.”

Wait to say it

She says a friend has something she does with her husband. They have an agreement that if someone has the urge to criticize, one says that “you might have a good point /or might be right in the way you do/handled ‘that’, then they DROP IT and don’t hash it out or make ANY other comments (i.e. bite their tongue). At that point, each feels acknowledged for their different opinions. The 2nd rule then is that the criticizer then has the option to go back to the issue later to discuss the point. The thing they’ve found though, is that by waiting, the heat of what’s bothering the criticizer cools or they forget what it was!

So, sometimes maybe you can try to wait before saying it at all. Rarely does rushing into criticism and judgment help in any situation.

And she also suggests working on patience, which is a main instigator of criticizing. Wait and look during a situation. It may resolve itself without you getting involved.

Questions to ask before you speak

Joann says if a person’s tendency is to look at the negative and be critical, it’s time to ask themselves some questions before they talk. “Why do you feel the need to say this?” “Are you getting a self esteem boost by “knowing more” or “being better”? “Does this help the person to know it?”
I would add, “Am I imposing my perfectionism or impossible standards onto someone else?”

If it genuinely should be said (think really hard on this), the key is to do it gently. Things sound much better if you are coming from a team perspective or thinking about the other person’s best interest. I love Joann’s statement, “I think working on remembering that there is another person in the equation and that they will be hurt and that you have the power to avoid or alleviate that hurt always helps.”

Say unto others…

Carolyn reminds us of the golden rule, paraphrased, “Say unto others what he would have them say unto him.” Ask yourself if you would like to be talked to in the way you are about to speak. Practice kindness and tact.

I agree, many times the problem is not what is being said, but how it is said. I know I don’t respond well to criticism that’s spoken in a haughty way like I am a three year old.

It starts in the mind

To get at the root cause, we need to reduce our critical thoughts. A Bible verse came up for Barbara, “Whatever is good, whatever is true, whatever is honest, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil. 4:8) It’s hard to be critical, when your mind is filled with these good things.

Practice seeing the good in people and situations.


And “mind your own business. If you do not have something good to say, say nothing. We all have plenty of things to work on for ourselves. Now this isn’t always true, especially when it comes to parenting. But, we need to be aware of how much fault finding we are doing.

Don’t be an energy drainer

My other friend Linda, says that being around someone who is constantly critical is energy drainer. Is that the kind of person you want to be? Criticism creates tension for you and the receiver. Experiment with noticing how it feels when you let something go.

Build each other up

Denise says we should be building each other up. So ask yourself if what you are going to say helping to build someone up?

She has these tips for being less critical:

  • asking someone close to you to hold you accountable
  • repent when you mess up
  • every time you think a critical thought – think 5 positive, uplifting, affirming things of that person/situation.

The last one has been helpful with my kids. The ideal would be 10 positives for every negative comment. So if I find myself with too many negative comments in a row, I tell myself I can’t say anymore until I have found at least 5 positive things to say.

Do you have any more tips on being less critical?