How to Practice Humility (21 Effective Ways + Tips)

Life’s a mix of ups and downs, and how we handle both says a lot about us. Humility is that quiet voice and power that reminds us to stay grounded and kind, no matter what. It’s a treasured virtue that binds communities and enhances our relationships. 

In this article, we’ll step through daily habits that build genuine humility—the kind that makes life better for you and everyone around you.

So, how can we turn down the volume of our egos and tune into the world around us with kindness? Keep reading as we explore practical ways to cultivate this powerful quality, one humble step at a time.

Listen More Than You Speak

Listening well means giving others space to talk. When you do this, it shows you respect their views. You’re not hogging the spotlight, and that’s a humble move. 

Next time someone is talking with you, really focus on them. Don’t just nod and wait for your turn to speak. Smile, and let them know you’re all ears. You might learn something new or see things differently. Plus, it’s polite to let someone share their thoughts fully without cutting them off.

"Many people are poor listeners, often thinking about their response instead of practicing active constructive listening, where each person focuses on what's being said before responding. Humble people are excellent listeners and wait patiently to discover what other people have to say."

— Lisa Honig Buksbaum | Positive Psychology Thought Leader | CEO, Soaringwords | Author, “SOARING into Strength: Love Transcends Pain

Acknowledge Others’ Strengths

Who doesn’t love a bit of praise? Giving someone a well-deserved shout-out boosts them and shows you’re not all about “me, me, me.

Did they do something great? Say so! It shows you’re not too proud to notice their shine. Try this:

  1. Spot the good stuff they do.
  2. Give a simple “Hey, I noticed you did a fantastic job on that. It’s really impressive!” or “Look at you go!”
  3. No need for a big show. Just tell them.

Offer Genuine Apologies

When you mess up, own it and say you’re sorry. If you’ve stepped on some toes or turned someone’s day upside down, offer a genuine apology. No “ifs” or “buts,” just a straightforward sorry.

Consider this guide:

  • Be clear about what you did wrong.
  • Say “I’m sorry” with zero excuses attached.
  • Let them know you’re all about making amends.

This shows you mean business about making things better.

"Admit when you are wrong. People frequently hate being wrong, but it happens to everyone at some point in their lives... It doesn't matter why you were wrong. The way to practice humility is to admit that you were wrong. If there is a way that you can right your wrong, that's even better."

— AJ Silberman-Moffitt | Senior Editor, Tandem

Celebrate Others’ Successes

Celebrating what others achieve is about getting happy for someone else’s win as if it were your own. This can inspire the whole vibe of your group or team.

This means when someone shares good news, join in the excitement. Clap, cheer, or even throw a high-five if it’s your style. You could say, “That’s amazing, congratulations!” It’s about making them feel seen and valued.

Taking part in others’ happiness doesn’t diminish your own successes. Instead, it builds a supportive network where everyone feels like a champ.

Practice Forgiveness

Got a grudge that’s weighing you down like a bag of bricks? Let it go. Forgiving someone is freeing for them and you. This opens up space for more positive interactions and inner calm. 

Think about these:

  • Put yourself in their shoes.
  • Focus on the lightness you feel without the grudge.
  • Focus on moving forward, not staying stuck in the past.

Remember, everyone messes up sometimes—including you. Forgiving is part of the human deal.

Admit When You Don’t Know Something

It’s totally okay not to have all the answers. Admitting you don’t know everything shows you’re honest and open to learning more. So next time you’re stumped, just say it straight: “I’m not sure, but I’ll find out.”

People respect transparency, and it sets the stage for others to share their knowledge. You turn a moment of not knowing into an opportunity for teamwork. 

"Admit that you need help... Verbally expressing that I have great room for improvement keeps me from lying to myself and triggering a gag response in others. I would rather admit my arrogance than announce my perceived humility to the world."

— Alexia J. Hogan | CEO, Mental Health Over Everything, LLC

Seek and Value Feedback from Others

Remember when you were little, and you’d show your drawings to someone just to see what they’d say? That’s feedback—pure and simple. As grown-ups, we still need those fresh eyes to tell us what’s what. Ask for people’s thoughts on your work or actions.

Next time you complete a task or project, try asking: 

  • “Any thoughts?”
  • “How do you think I did?”
  • “What can I improve?” 

Listening and valuing feedback allows you to make adjustments that can lead to success in your personal and professional life.

"Gather feedback from others. It can be hard to see yourself objectively and even harder to process feedback that doesn't mesh with your own view of yourself. Part of being more humble is understanding yourself as you are and as others see you, not necessarily how you see yourself in your own head."

— Kate Kandefer, PhD | CEO and Co-founder, SEOwind

Be Mindful of Your Influence on Others

Your words and actions have power—more than you might think. Consider the impact you have on others and strive to make it positive. Whether you’re a manager, a parent, or a friend, your behavior can inspire people or do just the opposite.

For example, you’re leading a meeting. If you handle interruptions patiently and tactfully, others will likely adopt a similar approach. This shows you’re not just filling a role; you’re setting a standard for how to act.

Being a good example, especially in stressful situations, encourages others to do the same, turning it into a place where positive habits grow and thrive. 

Share Credit Generously

When a project goes well, or a compliment comes your way, look back and see who helped you get there. Maybe it was a word of advice here, a helping hand there. When it’s time for a victory dance, bring everyone in.

Here’s your quick guide:

  • Start with a heartfelt “Thank you” to your team. It’s simple, but it goes a long way.
  • Highlight the specific contributions of others—it shows you see and value their efforts.
  • Be enthusiastic about their achievements—your excitement for them is contagious.

When people feel appreciated, they’re more likely to put in their best effort, which creates a better environment for everyone.

"The most humble people are ones who recognize that success is rarely a solo endeavor and that giving authentic recognition and praise is an effective way to ensure that everyone feels seen and valued."

— Lisa Honig Buksbaum | Positive Psychology Thought Leader | CEO, Soaringwords | Author, “SOARING into Strength: Love Transcends Pain

Respond to Criticism with Openness

Hearing tough opinions isn’t fun but can be golden for personal growth. Instead of shutting down or getting defensive, try to take a deep breath and say, “Thanks for pointing that out.”

Being open to constructive criticism shows you value growth over always being right. This doesn’t mean you accept everything at face value, but consider it thoughtfully to see if it can help you improve.

Doing such also enhances your skills and strengthens your relationships. People feel respected when they see their feedback taken seriously, encouraging an environment of trust and collaboration.

Give Respect and High Regard to Others and Their Needs

Respect is an essential foundation of human interaction. It’s about acknowledging that every person we meet has their own unique journey and challenges.

When respecting others, consider these steps:

  • Make space for their views. Everyone sees the world from a different angle.
  • Tune in to their needs, which might be different from your own.
  • Hold back on judging; you might not have the whole picture.

For example, if a coworker seems overwhelmed, offer help or just a listening ear. Simple actions like these show you regard their well-being and contributions.

Practice Gratitude Daily

Gratitude isn’t a big, complicated concept. It’s as simple as noticing the good things and people around you every day. It builds a heart of contentment and humility as you acknowledge the abundance in your life and the roles others play in it.

You might jot down a few thankful thoughts in a journal or tell someone directly how much you appreciate their help. This habit shifts your focus from what you lack to what you have, making you feel less inclined to compare yourself to others. 

"When we are grateful, we focus on what we have rather than what we lack. This can help us to feel content rather than always wanting more... Gratitude can help us to see the good in others rather than always looking for their flaws." 

— Batista Gremaud | Strength Training Expert | CEO and President, Dr Fitness International | Author, "Feminine Body Design"

Recognize Your Flaws

This one is tough but important. Looking in the mirror and seeing our own imperfections keeps us humble. Accepting our flaws means we’re not pretending to be perfect. 

Keep these ideas in mind:

  • When you trip up, don’t just brush it off—learn from it.
  • Remember, mistakes are part of being human.
  • Ask yourself, “What can I do better?”

When we see our own flaws clearly, we lower the barriers between us and others. It’s about being real and human, and that’s something everyone can relate to.

"Humility means to acknowledge not only our weak spots and not pretend to have strength in areas we don't but to be proud and present with our strengths and skills; to fully know that we can bring goodness into the world by being secure and truthful about the areas we excel in. Otherwise, we deprive people and the world of our gifts."

Kelly Sinning, MA, LPC, NCC | Owner and Licensed Professional Counselor, Kelly Sinning Counseling, LLC

Maintain a Healthy Perspective on Your Achievements

Celebrating your wins is great, but keeping them in perspective is what really counts. It’s about balancing pride with a dose of reality.

Remember, your achievements don’t define your worth. They are parts of your journey, not the whole story. By all means, feel proud, but also reflect on what helped you get there. Acknowledging the role that luck, timing, or the help of others played in your successes can help you stay grounded.

Show Patience and Understanding

Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to dealing with others. Whether it’s a colleague learning the ropes or a family member sharing a story, taking the time to be patient can make a difference; it’s allowing others the space to move at their own pace.

Moreover, understanding others is a powerful way to connect and show empathy, leading to deeper, more genuine interactions.

To cultivate these virtues:

  • Take a moment before responding, especially if you’re frustrated.
  • Aim to comprehend the other person’s perspective, even if you disagree.
  • Bear in mind that everyone has their own struggles.

Avoid Comparisons with Others

Comparing yourself to others is a trap that can lead to discontent and diminish your sense of value. Focus on your individual journey and progress. Celebrate your own achievements without weighing them against those of others.

If you find yourself comparing, redirect your thoughts to your personal growth and goals. By reducing the tendency to compare, you cultivate a personal sense of fulfillment and confidence, fostering a positive self-image that isn’t reliant on external benchmarks.

"Accept yourself for who you are. We tend to judge ourselves by comparing ourselves to others, which sometimes makes us feel bad about ourselves. So the best thing you can do is to accept yourself for who you are and to be the person you've always wanted to be."

— Dr. Cary Goldstein, DMD | Dentist, Goldstein Dental Center

Accept That You’re Not the Best at Everything

We all have our talents, but no one is perfect at everything. Knowing that you don’t have to be an expert in every field is a freeing realization, taking the pressure off and allowing you to enjoy learning more. 

Practice acceptance by:

  • Acknowledging and respecting others’ talents and skills as unique contributions.
  • Seeking to learn from those who are more skilled in certain areas.
  • Refraining from turning every situation into a competition with winners and losers.

Remember, it’s about collaboration, not competition.

Embrace Teachability

To be teachable is to have an open heart and mind and always be ready to learn, no matter how much you already know. Be it a new skill at work, a different point of view, or feedback, see each as a chance to grow.

Adopting the mindset of a lifelong learner involves asking questions, seeking out challenges, and welcoming corrections from others. It’s about being open to change and growth, which are at the heart of living a humble life.

Practice Mindfulness and Self-Reflection

Taking time each day to reflect on your thoughts and actions is vital for personal growth. Mindfulness helps you become aware of your feelings and reactions without judgment. Self-reflection, on the other hand, enables you to acknowledge your successes and areas for improvement. This habit promotes a deeper understanding of yourself.

To incorporate them into your life, you can:

  • Set aside time each day for quiet self-reflection.
  • Be fully present in your activities, minimizing distractions.
  • Consider journaling as a tool to process thoughts and track growth.

These practices help ground you in the present, provide clarity, and be centered amidst life’s ups and downs.

"The best way to practice humility is to have self-awareness about who you are today, a clear vision of who you are becoming, and the willpower to make the transformation happen... Self-reflection increases self-awareness and, therefore allows us to be aware of how in progress we currently are."

Lena Athena | Personal Empowerment and Leadership Expert |
Creator and Host, The School of Self

Perform Acts of Kindness Without Expecting Praise

Kindness is most powerful when given freely, without looking for a pat on the back. Whether you’re helping a neighbor or group, do it without seeking recognition. The focus is on the act itself, not the accolades that might come from it.

For example, when you give time to help a local shelter, tutor kids, or clean up a park, you’re stepping out of your circle and into a wider community effort. 

Such actions speak volumes about your character and cultivate an internal sense of reward. This approach also enriches your life and those around you, spreading positivity and compassion in everyday interactions.

"Humility is best exemplified by seeking opportunities to serve others. It requires you to elevate their needs before your own and allows you to put unconditional love into action."

— Daniel Ploof | Author, Wilderness Survival | Founder, Wilderness Survival Training

Be Gracious in Defeat

Nobody likes to lose, but there’s a lot of value in handling defeat with grace. Next time things don’t go your way, say you miss out on a job opportunity or come in second in a competition, take a moment to show genuine sportsmanship.

Here are some tips:

  • Congratulate the victor with kindness and genuine praise.
  • Taking moments of defeat as opportunities to learn and develop resilience.
  • Keep a positive attitude and show a willingness to try again.
  • Look forward to future opportunities without bitterness.

Handling loss with dignity shows character and an openness to self-improvement. In doing so, you exhibit a maturity that sets a positive example for others.

More Expert Insights

“Humble people have a more keenly developed emotional intelligence that recognizes the value of making the quieter people feel seen and valued. Humble people know that there is enough space and time to take a moment to invite these people to contribute.”

— Lisa Honig Buksbaum | Positive Psychology Thought Leader | CEO, Soaringwords | Author, “SOARING into Strength: Love Transcends Pain

“Review your shortcomings. Unless you have always done things perfectly, you probably have at least one aspect of your life or character that you wish you could improve… If you are actively mindful of your humility, you will be better able to see your shortcomings and approach change more clearly.”

— Ellie Borden, BA, RP, CPP | Registered Psychotherapist | Certified Life Coach | Clinical Director, Mind By Design®

“Humble people have a light shining within them, but they are not insistent on everyone looking at their light. They look for ways to contribute to the lives of others but don’t see themselves as the hero of the story.”

— Susanne M. Alexander | Relationship and Marriage Coach & Character Specialist, CharacterYAQ | Author, “Couple Vitality

“Practicing humility is knowing we are not always right, not always wanted, and not always the best. However, we are always present, here and now, loving ourselves unconditionally, knowing we are always enough.”

— Julianna Whitlow | Spiritual Mentor | CEO, A Clair Mindset

“Staying away from gossip and rumor-mongering will help you maintain a humble attitude. Speak positively about others, even if it’s in private conversation with a trusted friend or colleague.”

— Linda Shaffer | Chief People and Operations Officer, Checkr, Inc.

“The enemy of humility is pride. When asked what someone should do if they are struggling with prideful thoughts, Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit movement, said this: 

“Refer everything that you do to God. Strive to offer him all the good you find in yourself, acknowledging that this comes from God. And thank him for it.” 

This is great advice. Ignatius is saying, “Recognize that you are not the ultimate source of the good that you find in yourself..” If you can do that, you can become thankful for even your own positive traits. This works just as well for non-religious people… 

We slay the dragon of pride when we acknowledge that the good we find in ourselves has been nurtured from outside. This then helps us to avoid judging others.”

— Tim Kay | Co-Founder, Story

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I handle situations where others might mistake my humility for weakness?

It’s important to remain confident in your skills while being humble. Humility is not about weakness; it’s about being secure enough to recognize the strengths in others.

Clearly communicate your thoughts and stand firm on your values, but do so with respect and open-mindedness.

What’s the difference between humility and self-deprecation?

Humility is acknowledging your limitations without undervaluing yourself. Meanwhile, self-deprecation is putting yourself down and not recognizing your worth, which is not a form of humility.

How does practicing humility impact leadership?

Humility in leadership leads to more transparent and supportive environments. Humble leaders are perceived as approachable and fair, encouraging honesty and trust from their team. This can lead to higher morale and better performance.

What are some common misconceptions about humility?

Common misconceptions about humility include:

Humility is a sign of weakness: It’s often thought that humility indicates a lack of confidence, but it actually shows strength in understanding one’s own limitations and values.

Humility means being passive or submissive: Contrary to the belief that humble people are passive, true humility involves assertiveness and respecting others while still advocating for oneself.

Humility is the same as low self-esteem: Humility is not about low self-worth; it’s about having a realistic assessment of both strengths and weaknesses.

Humility prevents ambition: Humble people can be very ambitious. They pursue goals mindfully, recognizing their efforts and the help they receive.

Humility means always downplaying your achievements: Humility doesn’t require hiding success but involves sharing achievements without seeking excessive attention and acknowledging others’ contributions.

How can I teach my children to be humble?

Teach humility to children by modeling the behavior yourself, encouraging them to listen, emphasizing teamwork, and instilling gratitude. Also, make sure to celebrate their achievements while teaching them to respect others’ successes.

Final Thoughts

Practicing humility touches everything we do. It’s about stepping back a little, listening more, and giving others their turn to shine. These small changes are steps toward a rewarding and connected life.

By embracing the ways to practice humility, you open doors to a kinder self and a more understanding world. Keep these lessons close, and watch how they transform your daily interactions and inner peace. 

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Robby is a multimedia editor at UpJourney with a journalism and communications background.

When she's not working, Robby transforms into an introverted art lover who indulges in her love for sports, learning new things, and sipping her favorite soda. She also enjoys unwinding with feel-good movies, books, and video games. She's also a proud pet parent to her beloved dog, Dustin.