How to Stop Finding Fault in Others [15 Expert’s Advice]

When a negative thought starts creeping into your head, what should you do?

Here’s how to stop finding fault in others, as advised by experts.

Vindy Teja

Vindy Teja

Professional Life & Divorce Coach | TEDx Speaker |Author, “YOLO: Essential Life Hacks for Happiness”

Whether fault-finding is a family trait, a bad habit, a defense to criticism, or a negative strategy, there are ways you can break this cycle. I often use what I call the “TWA process”, a background program running in your life. Thoughts – Words – Action.

The thought becomes the word which becomes the action. Though this program is running all the time, once you’re consciously aware of it, it becomes a life hack you can use to effectively to avoid the fault finding abyss.

Watch your thoughts

What you think determines your feelings and attitudes, which are expressed in your daily words and actions, multiplied by 365 days a year. If you think of others (or yourself) as unworthy, incapable, unlovable, or unattractive, it can easily lead down the road of fault finding.

It’s not always easy to cultivate open and loving thoughts about others (or yourself), particularly when you’re tapped out, sick, had a disagreement with someone, or just had a rotten day in general.

But by paying attention to your feelings, rather than pushing them aside, you get vital data about what’s going on in your internal world and what matters to you…and that clarity can help direct your energy better.

An attitude of gratitude is a proverbial magic wand that helps conquer destructive thoughts and feelings. You know the culprits: complaining, criticizing, blaming, worrying, playing the victim, and exaggerating differences between you and others.

Related: What to Do When You Worry Too Much

When a negative thought creeps into your head, threatening to lead you down a toxic path of thinking, become aware of it. Challenge yourself to find a positive or constructive thought to counter it. This is a quick and easy technique to switch your brain to gratitude mode again.

You can’t hold two opposing thoughts at the same time. For example, you can’t simultaneously feel anger and patience toward someone who just cut in front of you in the cashier’s line at the grocery store. You switch from one to the other.

Pick your words wisely

What, how and when you say something can make all the difference in a conversation. You know what it feels like to be misunderstood, ignored, talked down to, talked over, or talked at. Not good. The tone and volume in which you’re spoken to further impacts how you process messages you receive.

With simple word choice, your statement can go from a fault finding one (judgmental or argumentative) to one that sounds conversational or solution directed.

Try the following word substitutions and notice the gradual shift in your attitude towards others, and the responses you get back.

Replace ‘should’ with ‘could’

What should you have done?

What could you have done?

‘Should’ sounds aggressive, judgmental, and puts people on the defensive. It implies you know more than they do. ‘Could’ suggests the possibility, hope, and curiosity.

Replace ‘but’ with ‘and’

“I appreciate your input, but we have to consider other people’s viewpoints.”

“I appreciate your input, and we have to consider other people’s viewpoints.”

‘But’ discounts and devalues everything you say before it, whereas ‘and’ honors a person’s opinion or qualities, communicates acknowledgment and provides additional perspective.

Replace ‘why’ with ‘what’

‘Why are you saying that?’

‘What do you mean by that?’

‘Why’, especially when accompanied by judging or blaming tone of voice, implies you made a mistake and prompts you to defend your position. ‘What’ sets up an open-ended question and implies curiosity. This sounds more inquiring than demanding.

Replace ‘you’ with ‘I’

‘You did not pick up the equipment in time for the presentation.’

‘I did not get the equipment in time for the game.’

Hearing ‘you’ often triggers someone and it’s common to fall into defensive mode. ‘I’ speak to what you observe, think, feel, and want. Subtle alterations can really make a difference in how your message is received and responded to.

Talk the talk, walk the walk

Actions speak louder than words. Just because someone says something doesn’t make it so.

Your words alone may sound good. Amazing actually. They may inspire and persuade, but nothing speaks louder than practicing what you preach. You lead by example. The opposite also holds true. A pattern of incongruence or lack of harmony between your words and actions gives others the impression you’re dishonest and hypocritical.

Here are some helpful tips mixed in with some food for thought:

It’s a question of integrity. Integrity means consistently choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain. Personal gain may be the result, but that’s not your main motivator.

Make a promise only if you intend to keep it. Once you’ve made it, keep it! If circumstances change, communicate with the person you made the promise to. Explain what’s changed. This is a big part of being in integrity.

Be curious. Try to figure out what’s led someone to do or say something. Are they feeling threatened? Disrespected? Exhausted? Sad? To get back on track, maybe they just need a reassuring word, hug, or nap!

Jeremy Arzt, LMFT, MA

Jeremy Arzt

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Clinical Director, The Edge Treatment Center

To stop finding fault in others we need to check in with ourselves first. What is our role in the relationship dynamic? Have we communicated when something upsets us?

Try to understand the emotional and situational context where they are coming from

We often blame others because of a fundamental attribution error. We are consistently able to justify our own actions because we know the emotional and situational context behind them. We have to be able to apply this to others and empathize with what their emotional and situational context may be.

It is easy to fall into the blame game, but to pull ourselves out of that perspective, we need to do a little work. It requires some emotional intelligence and more than a little patience to look at a person and reframe what may have been behind their “failing”.

Give them the benefit of the doubt

The work of giving people the benefit of the doubt in this way is worthwhile for several reasons. We reduce our own frustration and impatience. We process the world in a kinder, more nuanced way.

Our kind attitude is often reciprocal—if you give someone else the benefit of the doubt, they are much more likely to do so with you in the future.

To stop finding fault with others, we must give others the same understanding we so easily give ourselves. When someone is late, perhaps they were stuck in traffic. When someone drops the ball on communication, it is likely that they have a thousand other things they are trying to focus on.

The world is a kinder place when we apply this new perspective to our interactions, and we are better for it.

Gray Robinson

James Gray Robinson

Attorney | Mindfulness & Relationship Expert | Transformational Speaker, Lawyer Lifeline

When we judge others, we are being victims. In order to stop being a victim, we have to remember two things.

Perception is projection

We see reality through filters, opinions, and beliefs that can radically change what we are perceiving. When we play the victim, we need someone to blame. In order not to be a victim, we have to find where we are responsible for what we are seeing.

Look into your own self and find the source of your own hatred

For example, when we blame others for riots, crime, or violence, we need to look into ourselves and find our own hatred. Violence in others is a projection of the violence in ourselves. Our time is better spent dealing with inner violence.

Second, when we are finding fault, we are nurturing our own self-hatred. If we truly love ourselves, there is no fault to find in others.

When we focus on happiness and love, there is no time for the blame and shame game. When we eliminate that shame from our own lives, it disappears from what we perceive.

Related: 12 Best Self Love Books

Dr. Courtney Tracy, LCSW, PsyD

Courtney Tracy

Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Mental Health Expert, The Truth Doctor

Many people say that we seek to find fault in others because it’s ego defense. I agree and I disagree. Yes, it’s an ego defense, but it’s also a means of unconscious connection.

We know, whether we like it or not, that we are flawed human beings. When we find flaws in others, we don’t feel so alone. We understand that everyone is human and it gives us that sense of security that people aren’t “better than us.”

My advice for those looking to stop finding faults in others is to realize that they may be looking too much at the faults within themselves. If we were paying attention to the goodness within ourselves, we would pay more attention to the goodness in others.

Create an honest inventory of yourself

List out what you like about yourself and list out what you perceive your faults to be. See if there are any patterns between the faults you find within yourself and the faults you find in others.

Sometimes, there is a connection not only between the faults we see in us and those we see in others, but also a sharp contrast between what we like about ourselves and what we don’t like about others.

If we’re really good at organization, for example, we may judge someone on their disorganization. In those instances, I would say that acceptance skills are helpful there.

Ask yourself: Why can’t I allow others to be who they are instead of wanting them to be more like me? Where did this pattern come from?

Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, MFT, ATR

Christine Scott-Hudson

Licensed Psychotherapist | Owner, Create Your Life Studio

Realizing that people are fighting unseen battles, and that fault-finding & judging them is only creating a world with more judgment, may help you to see them with kinder eyes.

Judging others is a habit that we employ in order to avoid feeling bad about ourselves. If we do the comparison game and see someone as less than, we think, that by proxy, we are better. But this is not how the comparison game works. In order to see you as less than, I must see you as separate from me.

But, the truth is, we are all in this same boat, together. And in some ways, we are all the same, as human beings. We are all a part of the human race.

The whole “better than/worse than” game is toxic. It is anesthesia to feeling bad about ourselves, but like junk food, it may be satisfying in the short term and provide temporary relief, but, if we take in too much of it, it will make us unwell in the long term.

People who judge others have habitualized feeling separate from others. If you saw the other person as your brother or sister in the human race, you could not possibly judge them. So, as long as you judge others, you feel separate from others. That is a very lonely place to be.

Try to notice and keep track of your judgmental thoughts

If you’d like to stop judging other people, try to notice your judgmental thoughts for a week. Label any thoughts you see as inherently judgmental. Circle back and find some grace to extend towards the person you just judged.

Maybe they are drug-addicted due to childhood abuse and sorrow. Maybe they are canceling plans again due to depression or anxiety. Maybe they never take on classroom room-mother responsibilities because they are overwhelmed and taking care of elderly relatives.

Make it a practice to reach for a more forgiving, understanding, compassionate thought. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Assume the good.

Once you start to notice how often you judge others, you will likely notice how often you judge yourself. Extend this same kind of grace inwardly, when you notice a judgmental thought you are having about yourself. Label the thought as a “judgment.” See if there is a compassionate way to look at the behavior or situation. Extend empathy. Validate yourself.

It is possible to root out the habit of being judgmental. It takes mindful, compassionate awareness, forgiveness, and consistency. The pay off is creating a world that feels more safe, and a deeper connection to other human beings and yourself.

Stop looking at other people as the cause of problems and look within yourself

Stop looking outside of themselves at other people as the cause of problems and look at what it is within them that is causing discomfort.

None of us like to feel negative emotions, especially not about ourselves (except in ways we are used to and feel comfortable) so when we have a strong emotion it is common to channel this emotion outside of ourselves and blaming other people is a fast way of doing that.

Looking at how we feel while criticizing others will start to give us a clue as to what we are trying to avoid feeling.

For many of us, it is simply fear of being out of control and if we can find control those around us we can feel more empowered, even if it is a short-lived feeling and does not help us to feel safer in the long term.

Another reason that we can be critical of people around us is to feel better about ourselves, putting people down to feel important or “right” about things. Again, this does not last because deep down we know strong people do not try to diminish other people.

Related: How to Stop Being Critical of Others?

If you find yourself being overly critical of people, take some time to recognize what you are feeling deep down. Put aside the reasons and the thoughts that support your behavior and focus on your emotions.

If you find that you are feeling powerless, out of control, insecure of yourself or other emotions, be kind to yourself. Try to move your focus from the people around you to taking care of yourself, meeting your emotional needs, and acknowledging how you feel deep down.

Tonya Leigh

Tonya Leigh

Certified Master Life and Self-Image Coach

Stop convincing others to see things the way you see them

To stop finding fault in others, we must consciously stop our immediate reaction to try to convince others to see the way we see and the way we see it. Let me explain.

Do you find yourself spending a lot of your time trying to convince other people that you’re good enough, that your ideas are good, that you’re worth the investment, that you are lovable and likable? We have probably all done this at some point, right? Try stopping that reaction.

It may take time, but we soon realize we are trying to convince the wrong people. Who we really should be convincing is ourselves, believing in ourselves, our ideas, and all we represent.

A lot of people will choose to be right over being happy, and it costs us so much peace. This is most likely on some level, that we desire to feel better. We want to feel validated. We want confirmation for our beliefs, our opinions and our ideas. But in this desire of getting confirmation from other people, we end up pushing others away. We end up creating the very result we don’t want, finding fault where it’s not necessary and turning people in the other direction.

It’s like convincing other people you are likable, when in reality what you need to be doing is convincing yourself that you are likable, be likable, like yourself. Because when you convince yourself that you’re likable, you don’t need other people to like you. You get to like you. And that is what matters.

I encourage you to start practicing in believing in yourself, your dreams, and your worth, because, when you know you believe deep down, you’ll find that you don’t need to convince anyone of anything.

If you find yourself trying to convince other people, take a step back, and ask yourself what external validation are you looking for? Then remind yourself you believe in yourself, you don’t need external validation. Seeing this in yourself allows you to stop finding fault in others, how they think, and what they do. It’s a very rewarding & liberating feeling.

Madelaine C. Weiss, LICSW, MBA, BCC

Madelaine Weiss

Executive, Career, and Life Coach | Speaker | Trainer

Turn it right back at ourselves and ask “What is it you want?”

Maria, a 36-year-old systems analyst, and single mom came to me for help with generalized unhappiness in her life. Basically, she said she was just “pissed off” with people, with work, with pretty much everything and everyone, pretty much all of the time.

But not with me. She really enjoyed her time with me, like an oasis in the desert. We just clicked, Maria and I, an essential ingredient for the ‘take it to the mat’ work that was to come.

So one day Maria walked into my office looking mad as hell—at me! “So this is what that looks like firsthand,” I said adding, “thank you for sharing” and we laughed. “But tell me, Maria, what is it that has you so mad?” to which she responded, “It’s your car.”

I had just gotten a new car, which Maria passed on her way into my office, noticing the baby seat in the back figuring that, since I had just had a baby, it was mine. When I asked Maria what my new car represented to her, she answered, “Security and Stability.”

There it was. My car suggested that I had a kind of security and stability that she wanted for herself and her son. No longer a fault of mine, but rather a yearning of hers. And, because we then knew together what she wanted deep within her heart, it drew us closer together on the road to her ultimately getting both promotions and raise at work, and a husband to help her raise her young son.

The moral of this story is that there is much we can learn about ourselves when we find ourselves sitting in judgment of others. A gift, as they say, because the judgy threatens to divide us, while the discovery of true yearnings guides us and unites us—and who among couldn’t use a little more warm, fuzzy connection right now.

So what if every time we catch ourselves finding fault with someone else, we turn it right back at ourselves and ask “What is it you want?” It got Maria the security and stability she craved and could get you something precious to you too. Practice, practice, practice…and see what happens.

Yocheved Golani

Yocheved Golani

Mental Health Writer, E-Counseling

Cliches about forgiveness don’t help much, especially when you are feeling strong emotions about someone else’s genuine or imagined failings. Let’s look at the situation in a new way, so that you end up smiling and in a forgiving frame of mind.

Think of a problem. Find the point at which you’re psychologically convinced is the source of the problem – the narrative aka “reason” you blame for things not working out e.g.,

  • “This broke because manufacturers only make junk or believe in planned obsolescence,
  • “He/she didn’t lose weight because manufacturers only make hi-cal packaged foods,”
  • “He/she doesn’t think so smart (especially not as I do!) so he/she is not worthy of forgiveness,”
  • “X didn’t happen because of Y,” “I’m stuck because whose it didn’t whatever,”
  • “I hate them all. Nobody deserves to be forgiven for being greedy, stupid, disagreeable,” etc.

Let’s re-examine the situation(s). Reality is a Belief Bubble. It keeps things out of control because you’re fragmenting reality rather than seeing it as a whole. You see one person as in control of the situation; you or the other person. That takes you out of a neutral, fact-based point of view.

Get your ego and fears out of the way. Life is not always about you

The universe has some basic operating rules and you’ve stopped considering them in a pique of disappointment or anger. A person is supposed to nullify her/himself to reality, dealing with what is rather than with what isn’t.

Get your ego and fears out of the way. Life is not always about you. Channel some perspective on the problem. Give the problem to God, to the universe, whichever calms you down. You can work on having a “Let go, Let God/the universe” Confidence Bubble. It lets you stop blaming people, situations, and things.

Step into that confidence-filled bubble knowing what youwant to leave behind – especially your lack of forgiveness – and what you want to attract to your life – forgiveness, cooperation, success, name it. Your anger and blood pressure will drop a bit because of that intention.

Accept that you still might not get your way. That takes practice. Keep it up and life just might become more rewarding more often. A forgiving mindset can do lots of magic.

Own the “I blame this, that, the other” lie that you tell yourself. Stop lying. Face the realities. The people involved might try to block you, which is predictable. They’re in a small-minded state of mind due to your negative emotions and loss of perspective.

The pain that you feel about that situation is about lacking confidence in yourself, the other person, and even in that God and/or universe that you believe in – a godless reality. The blockers have their own souls and agendas. They make their own choices. You’re free to walk away with a sense of forgiveness for their realities and limitations.

Though family members, colleagues, friends, and neighbors clash from time to time, there’s a limit to our responsibilities regarding people who sabotage us.

The end game is to make this a better world than the one it is, not self-destruction. Boundaries matter. Forgiveness heals your mind and heart. Accept a situation or person for what they are, let go, and release the toxic failure to forgive.

Focus on your bubble of confidence

Know that physically, emotionally, and energetically that you are only surrounded by the light of a willingness to forgive, a willingness to let the universe/GOD direct life. You’ve done your best. Choose to be surrounded by the light of that choice. Let it be your shield from negative emotions.

Dr. J. Salim, DMD

J Salim

Owner and Founder, Sutton Place Dental Associates

One of the most important traits to have to succeed in life, both personally and professionally, is humility. When you are humble, people are more likely to gravitate toward you as friends, and you will also be well-liked at work.

Focus on yourself and your flaws

To cultivate this important attribute within, we need to focus on ourselves and our flaws rather than of others.

Often, when things are going well, and we are happy with our lives’ outcomes, we tend to credit only ourselves. We forget that others were instrumental in those positive outcomes.

And when things go wrong, and we are unhappy with events in our lives, it is always other people’s faults. The attitude to always give ourselves all the credits while blaming everyone else is the path of least resistance in human beings.

To become a better human being, we need to work on ourselves to change this, crediting others when things are going well, and blaming ourselves when they are not. By gradually working on developing this trait, we learn how to delve within, reflect on our actions and words, and discover our shortcomings.

By identifying our weak points, we get a chance to work on them. We can use our strengths to get a handle on them.

When our myopic view of what we perceive to be reality slowly broadens, we see that many weak points that we blame others for are just as bad or even worse in ourselves. We also see the good in others, while overlooking their flaws.

Instead of our physical and anatomical eyes, we begin to see the real truth using our spiritual eyes or insight. We grow as human beings, become much more humble, and we gradually stop looking for other people’s faults.

Doing this will definitely benefit us. We will have a more balanced life, and our new found humility will start attracting others towards us.

Like everything that is valuable in life and needs a price to be paid for it, this is not an easy task. We tend, in fact, to see faults in others. Our brain’s biochemistry is conditioned to do this over and over.

We need to be patient and work on developing humility, knowing that it will not happen overnight.

At first, we may still tend to see others’ flaws, but at least we look within to identify similar faults in ourselves. This first step will help us complain less and less and put a lesser emphasis on other people’s faults.

Once we have gotten used to this, we begin to look for other people’s positive points instead. We will then try to emulate and develop those positives within us. As a result, we will gradually start liking others more and more.

We will soon see that having humility is not a weakness, but one of the greatest strengths that a human being could ever possess.

Dr. Kim Turnage and Larry Sternberg, JD

Kim Turnage and Larry Sternberg

Consultants | Speakers | Authors, “Managing to Make a Difference”

People are less likely to express gratitude at work than almost anywhere else. Only 10 percent of people express appreciation to their coworkers on a daily basis, and 60 percent never say “Thank you” at work, or do it only once or twice a year.

Are appreciation and gratitude really cultural values that people in your organization live out every day? Or are they just aspirational values that nobody practices very consistently?

Managers and leaders have to own the cultures of the organizations they lead. What changes could they make to their own behavior that would drive positive changes in the behavior of others?

Learn to express gratitude and give praise

If you lead a team, ask people to tell you about a success they’ve had lately. Catch people doing things right, and praise both their efforts and their results. Find a way to express gratitude to someone on your team every single day. Create opportunities for people to thank each other as well.

Express appreciation one-on-one. You find what you look for. So if you look, you’ll find opportunities to express your appreciation or gratitude for something someone did. You can do it orally, or you can write a brief note.

Know the individuals who work for you and understand what is meaningful to each person – what do they think feels rewarding. All anyone wants to do each day is to feel significant. Having recognition that feels deserved in the way you like to be recognized enables people to feel just that – significant.

Simply find ways to express appreciation and gratitude. When you make a habit of this and you’ll notice others do more of it as well.

Lynell Ross

lynell ross

Resource Director, Test Prep Reviews

Become self-aware

What happens to many of us is that we were brought up with certain beliefs, about religion, race, and proper ways of behaving according to our parents, clergy, and teachers.

The problem lies in not realizing that we may have adopted our beliefs unconsciously without knowing that we have the power to think for ourselves.

We often judge other people automatically without being open-minded

We may think other people are wrong for the simplest things and don’t stop to think that we may be at fault or offending someone else.

Show some empathy

A way to stop finding fault with others is to stop and ask yourself why you are upset with someone else’s behavior, and to have some empathy for the other person. Think about what they may be going through, or consider what may have caused them to act a certain way.

Do your own inner work

If you are constantly finding fault with others, it may mean that you are judging yourself and projecting your guilt onto other people. It takes time and outside help to look at our own character flaws.

We are usually blind to our own faults. It takes a mature person to be able to listen to feedback about ourselves and take action to change if we realize we have been hurting or annoying others.

Focus on improving yourself and let others live their own life

If you are often finding fault with others, it may be because you are not happy with yourself. When we focus on our own shortcomings and make positive changes, it makes it much easier to stop picking on other people.

Clay A. Kahler, Ph.D.

Clay Kahler

Soldier | Law Enforcement Officer | Pastor | Professor

Self-reflection is the single greatest prevention of arrogance

Those who find amusement in the finding of deficiencies in others are often the very ones who would refuse to honestly examine themselves.

In order to better understand the mindset of a judgmental person, one must understand the intrinsic need for validation, whether from others or from one’s self. It is this flaw in the human psyche that produces this sport of fault finding.

However, if one will take account of one’s self and have the discipline to begin the arduous task of self-correction, they would soon discover that they haven’t nearly as much time or energy to debase others.

A healthy, honest view of our own condition will prevent our desire to revel in the inadequacies that we see in others.

Ty McKinney, M.S.

Ty McKinney

Brain Health Consultant, ConsciousWorks | Research Director, Branch Out Neurological Foundation

During my learning journey on this topic, I came to realize that we all have a lot less control over our life trajectories than society might like us to think.

We have to understand that each person’s behaviors are influenced by many different factors from their own life story, not all of which they had a choice in

We are all influenced by the prenatal factors, early life experiences, and the culture that we are raised in. Many of these factors are outside of our control (did you choose your birthplace?), yet can have a profound impact on the way our brain operates, which in turn guides us to behave in certain ways.

I found I could start giving forgiveness for people’s faults much more easily when I understood that they are the product of all of those forces. Even the most difficult people have personally valid reasons for their behavior once you know their story. Consider these examples:

That office worker who lacks attention to detail: Their brain may be optimized for rapidly switching their attention between tasks instead of deep focus on a single task.

An exceptionally demanding supervisor: They may have been born into a position of privilege where perfectionism could flourish and don’t realize other people may not have the same level of resources at their disposal.

If you want to stop finding faults in someone, listen to their story to understand where they are coming from. This empathy is the antidote of needless blame.

Amie Devero

Amie Devero

Managing Director, Beyond Better

I provide strategy consulting and executive coaching to the founders and leaders of high-growth tech startups. The problems for them arise in two different ways: leaders who believe their employees don’t meet their expectations; and more junior employees who are stuck at home with family or flat mates and now notice every personality flaw in their living cohorts.

In fact, we are often hardest on the people we know best and care the most about. We believe that we have had so much experience that they can’t surprise us.

Our very certainty about that makes it really hard for people to outshine our expectations. That’s often the source of issues for those in close proximity, like family or spouses.

I usually suggest that people try to pretend they don’t know the person; that they think of them as a new person who they have yet to understand. That can create an opportunity to embrace curiosity and interest –which can transcend the fault-finding.

Distinguish what you are finding fault with

For my clients in leadership roles, it’s important to distinguish what they are finding fault with. Is it actual performance or is it a stylistic or personality issue?

For example, yesterday a CEO client asked me to work with a director who constantly finishes his (and other’s ) sentences. Plus, she makes these interruptions believing she knows how the sentence was going to end, but she is often wrong. This particular fault is not merely stylistic. It is a function of listening to respond instead of listening to discover.

But, in another instance, a client asked me to work with her Chief of Staff who wasn’t quick enough in his interactions with the CEO. When I worked with the Chief of Staff it became clear that this was simply stylistic. He speaks more slowly than his boss would like but it is not something he can or should have to alter.

So my coaching with the CEO was to alter her expectations. Also, when she is in a hurry, she shouldn’t meet with the Chief of Staff but instead, send him an email or text and communicate asynchronously.

We all need to be willing to be flexible in our expectations.

Finding fault does profound damage to our own experience of being connected, and to our relationships. It’s impossible to pretend “everything is fine” when you are instead experiencing contempt and judgment about the person you’re with.

But altering that starts with us, in examining our expectations and judgments and modifying them when they are destructive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to find fault with others?

Finding fault with others refers to the act of identifying and emphasizing the perceived flaws, mistakes, or shortcomings of others, often with the intention of criticizing or belittling them. This behavior can manifest in various ways, such as making negative comments, gossiping, or displaying a judgmental attitude. 

Finding fault with others can be harmful to both the person being criticized and the one criticizing, as it can damage relationships, foster negativity, and hinder personal growth. By working on self-awareness, empathy, and communication skills, one can learn to approach interactions with others in a more constructive and compassionate manner.

What is the root cause of finding fault in others?

The root cause of finding fault in others often stems from a combination of psychological factors, personal experiences, and social conditioning. At the core, it’s a self-defense mechanism that allows us to project our insecurities, fears, and imperfections onto others instead of confronting them within ourselves. This behavior can also be influenced by the need for control or validation, as well as a desire to elevate one’s self-esteem by devaluing others.

Why do people pick fault with others?

Insecurity: People might pick fault in others to deflect attention from their own perceived inadequacies. This helps them avoid dealing with their insecurities and maintain a sense of self-worth.

Fear of vulnerability: Acknowledging our own flaws requires us to be vulnerable. By focusing on the faults of others, we protect ourselves from the discomfort and risk associated with vulnerability.

Control: Some individuals may find fault in others as a way to exert control or authority in a relationship or situation. This behavior can give them a false sense of power and importance.

Social comparison: Comparing ourselves to others is a natural human tendency. When we find fault in others, it can give us a temporary boost in self-esteem and create a sense of superiority.

Environment: Our upbringing, family dynamics, and cultural background can influence the way we perceive and interact with others. People raised in critical environments may develop a habit of fault-finding as a learned behavior.

What are examples of fault finding?

Personal relationships: A partner consistently criticizes their significant other’s appearance, choices, or interests, undermining their confidence and self-esteem.

Work environment: A manager or coworker constantly points out small mistakes in someone’s work without providing constructive feedback or recognizing the person’s accomplishments and strengths.

Social settings: A friend regularly belittles others’ achievements, opinions, or lifestyles, making negative comments and comparisons to elevate themselves.

Parenting: A parent continuously focuses on a child’s shortcomings and failures without acknowledging their efforts or successes, leading to feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth in the child.

Online interactions: An individual frequently leaves negative comments on social media, nitpicking at people’s appearances, opinions, or lifestyles, often under the veil of anonymity.

How can I become more aware of my own tendency to criticize others?

Self-reflection: Start by examining your thoughts and feelings when you find yourself criticizing others. Ask yourself what emotions or insecurities might be driving this behavior. Regular self-reflection can help you become more aware of your patterns and motivations.

Mindfulness: Cultivate mindfulness through practices like meditation, yoga, or journaling. By focusing on the present moment and observing your thoughts without judgment, you can develop a deeper understanding of your inner self and identify any tendencies to criticize others.

Active listening: Practice active listening to improve your communication skills and foster empathy. Make a conscious effort to understand others’ perspectives and feelings rather than immediately jumping to conclusions or finding fault.

Seek feedback: Ask for feedback from trusted friends or family members about your communication style and tendency to criticize. Their input can provide valuable insights and help you identify areas for improvement.

Self-compassion: Cultivate self-compassion by treating yourself with kindness and understanding when you make mistakes or face challenges. Developing a healthier relationship with yourself makes you less likely to project your insecurities onto others.

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