The Dangers of Pointing out Faults in Others

It is all too common place and easy to find fault. Do you often point out what is wrong with others? Are you critical of others? Do you frequently fault-find? Are you judgemental? Does this make you miserable? Are you hurting others by pointing out their flaws and weaknesses?  If this describes you, this habit is probably ruining your life, you just might not realise it.  Are you where you want to be with this challenge in your life? What are you going to do about it? Read on – this may be uncomfortable reading for you…

Faultfinding is “the act of pointing out faults, especially faults of a petty nature.” Or in other words – continual criticism, typically concerning trivial things. Pointing out others shortcomings, flaws, criticising, carping, nitpicking, murmuring, using slander, regularly using pejorative terms about others, griping or perhaps in its worst form backbiting (attacking the character of another). Is it hazardous to your well being? Pointing fingers, judging others? Are all of these behaviours dangerous towards others? Is it an issue of pride perhaps? Is it ruining your life? The self righteous and smug thoughts that can provide a fleeting emotional boost, don’t lead to happiness. In my experience those who fault find the most, tend to be amongst the unhappiest people in the group or organisation. For a moment, lets pause and reflect upon how this may be adversely effecting you.

Faultfinding can and does twist the way we see others. It can also drive a wedge between you and others. For some reason or another, we may see ourselves as better or even superior. In essence we become intolerant of the weaknesses of others, in turn distorting the way we may view our own faults. From time to time I think we can all be a little prone to look at the weaknesses, limitations and failings of others. Through my coaching career, I have found that there are some who find fault and criticise in a very destructive way, which can be extremely debilitating to those on the receiving end. There is a huge difference from this, to providing constructive criticism and feedback.

By sad experience, I have found too that if I choose to pursue a course of faultfinding, not only do I usually end up hurting other people, I also end up hurting myself even more. By focusing on faults, we usually end up creating more divisions. Sometimes silence is the better option, with some truths best left unsaid.

Inevitably, in our own career and life journeys we are going to have differences with others. The things that cause us irritations vary widely from person to person. The question is not whether we have such differences, but how we choose to manage them. So – what can we do about it? How about considering each of these options….

  • We can choose to simply overlook the difference
  • Or – reserve our judgement and postpone any action
  • Perhaps even take up the differences privately with the person involved and have a courageous conversation with them.

Personally, I like the old cliche, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Gordon B. Hinckley suggested “each of us turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good among those with whom we associate, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults.” So, why not start expressing gratitude more often towards others. One of my personal habits which I have posted regularly in the past about is keeping a daily journal. It is a great way to increase self awareness. Frequently, I record the things that I am most grateful for. Subsequently, I can promise you that you will soon begin to see a difference in your life and a positive byproduct will be, that you will stop judging others, seeing them in a different light.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf shared the following story. “While looking for a new home, a young couple talked to potential neighbours about the neighbourhood and the schools in the area.

One woman they spoke to said of the school her children were attending: “This is the most incredible place! The principal is a wonderful and good man; the teachers are well qualified, kind, and friendly. I am so pleased that our children can attend this wonderful school. You’ll love it here!”

A different woman said of her children’s school: “It’s a terrible place. The principal is self-absorbed; the teachers are unqualified, rude, and unfriendly. If I could afford to move out of this area, I’d do it in a heartbeat!” The interesting thing was that both women were speaking about the same principal, the same teachers, and the same school.

Have you ever noticed that people can usually find whatever they are looking for? Look long and hard enough, then you will discover both good and bad in almost anyone and anything.

Remember, we can always look in the mirror, pause, reflect, carefully consider and honestly examine ourselves and our motives before we choose a comment to express, or a course of action to pursue. We need to examine our own minds, our own thoughts and motivations – but most importantly of all – consider our own flaws! As I do so, I am then acutely aware of my own personal imperfections – there are far, far too many to list here!! CS Lewis observed “It is no good passing this over with some vague general admission such as ‘Of course, I know I have my faults.’ It is important to realise that there is some really fatal flaw in you: something which gives the others just that same feeling of despair which their flaws give you. And it is certainly something you don’t know about……” He suggests further that…”Whenever the thoughts come unnecessarily into one’s mind [about others], why not simply shove them away? And think of one’s own faults instead?” After all what else is there to do?

I am always looking for ways to improve and change, hopefully for the better. We need to learn from our mistakes of the past, each of us have many choices to consider. We can continue to seek for the faults in others, or we can make peace with ourselves, search our souls and find the good in others. By so doing, we can work to extend to others the understanding, fairness, goodness and kindness we most likely desire for ourselves. Ultimately, we have a choice to make. However, I truly believe that whatever we desire to seek, we most certainly will find.

By considering the past, living in the present and looking to the future, let’s endeavour to cultivate the habit of noticing what is good, lovely, endearing, praiseworthy, kind, delightful, hopeful, brave, and inspiring in others. Let’s stop fault finding. Be an example of change, correct your own faults and be the best you can be. Turn your energy and motivation to looking for the good in others – always! I promise, that you will find freedom there and that you become a light for many, many others in your journey through life.

Points to consider.

  • What are my own faults & flaws?
  • Whom do you need to look at differently?
  • What further step can I take to be the good in someone’s life?
  • What will you do to change how you see others?