It’s untoward to bash someone publicly. I’ve done it before and I always end up feeling horrible about it later. I’ve found that the longer it takes you to feel bad about it, the more work you have left to do on yourself. I’ve worked hard to stop doing it, and I don’t do it anymore.

Of course this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have strong opinions, or withhold public disagreement on a specific decision. Every decision demands dissent. But bashing isn’t disagreeing. It’s bashing. Bashing is about tone (overly aggressive or passive aggressive), it’s about time (often tied to a knee-jerk reaction), it’s about outcome (if the point is just to make yourself feel good, then you’re just talking out loud to yourself). It often signals a lack of information (on your part).

You don’t change someone’s mind by telling them they’re an idiot. When’s the last time someone changed your mind that way?

A good trick that helped me cool myself down a couple years back was to institute a personal “1:1 bash ratio”. I didn’t always hold myself to it, but basically it went like this… Before every external bash, I had to bash myself first. If I’m going to bitch about someone else’s work, what about my work? If I have a problem with how someone runs their company, how about how I run mine? If I’m going to complain loudly about someone else’s point of view, what about mine? Are there any flaws in my way of thinking? There must be, so what are they? What am I getting completely wrong?

This isn’t a new idea, of course. “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” – that’s been around forever. But what I like about the 1:1 ratio is that it’s not saying you shouldn’t strongly criticize – it’s saying that you owe yourself one before you dish one out to someone else. Avoiding a harsh criticism doesn’t help you learn like harshly criticizing yourself helps you learn. And eventually it helps you realize how often you’re breathing fire. Ultimately you may not want to do it anymore.