Tips to Develop Humility

Note — Originally posted on Quora “How does one be humble?”

Humility, like any character trait, takes years and years of deliberate practice. There are no “quick tricks.”

Personally, I still have a long way to go, but I have found some things that have helped me. Maybe they will help you.

  • Daily recitation — I say to myself “I am humble” each morning. This primes me to think about humility throughout the day.
  • Nightly “what could I have done to be more humble today?” — I ask myself this each night.
  • Meditation — slowing my mind down helps me to be more calm, which makes it easier to be humble.
  • Self deprecation — have you listened to a comedian lately? Most are masters at this. They poke fun at themselves. Warning though, don’t take this too far though or you’ll come across as “fishing for compliments.”
  • Deflect praise — if someone compliments you say “thank you for your kind compliment. I owe most of the credit to X.” X can be anyone who helped you along. If in doubt praise a parent or teacher for raising you well.
  • Admit when you don’t know by simply saying “I don’t know.”
  • Resist the urge to always be right. Praise your fellow interlocutor for their merits even if you disagree. If you can’t find a merit, praise the way he said it (i.e. “You are very good at articulating your point of view”).
  • Never criticize, condemn or complain.
  • Listen more than you speak.
  • Ask others for advice. Say “I’m impressed with what you have accomplished. Can you share with me what makes you successful?”
  • Be generous in your praise.
  • If someone lets you down don’t make them feel guilty.
  • Have perspective above the day to day of life.
  • Likely avoid sarcasm, but if you must, use it cautiously and never to put someone down.
  • Think about what you really want in a situation.
  • Step away if you are feeing strong emotions.

I heard the phrase “habits of humility” a little while back. It has caused me to think. What makes someone humble? What are their habits of humility? A final recommendation is to observe someone that you think is humble. Find their habits and emulate them.

What habits have you observed? What has helped you develop humility?

A couple of books I’ve read recently that have helped me.

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • The Power of Kindness
  • Crucial Conversations
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