How well do you understand people? Why do people do the things they do? To understand people we must first realize that everyone is at a different place in life. Everyone has unique experiences, personality and abilities. God created each of us uniquely. That is why sometimes it is difficult to understand others, especially if they think, act and believe differently than we do.
To understand someone you first must be willing to listen to them and get to know them. It takes time to get to know someone, we can sometimes jump to conclusions about people based on a brief encounter with them. That is a dangerous thing to do. We can write someone off or judge someone before we begin to understand them.
I heard this story about a man and his three children. They were riding on the subway and the kids were being unruly. They were out of their seats, loud and pretty annoying. The father sat in his seat, just starring out the window. The people around the man and kids looked at each other with that look of annoyance. Finally one man decided to approach the father. He said “excuse me sir, but could you please manage your kids, they are out of control”. The man turned to him and said “I am so sorry, they just lost their mother. We are on our way home from the hospital. I guess they don’t know how to handle this and I don’t either.”
Immediately every one’s attitude changed. They now understood what was happening and it changed how they viewed the man, and the children. How often do we do that? We get irritated with someone and don’t know what they are going through. We get angry at the guy that cuts us off, but don’t know what is going on in his life. We get irritated at the co-worker that is late to work, but don’t know what she is going through at home. We don’t know the life the other person has lived, the hardships they have experienced, the grief they have been through, the pain they are in right now.
Remember that we all have different backgrounds, families, experiences and personalities. All of those things affect how we act, what we say and how we live. We all have lies we believe that influence the things we do. Once we understand that in others we can be more effective in helping them.
When we seek to understand people, it is much easier to be patient, forgiving and kind. Once you understand the person better then you can begin to speak truth to them in a loving way.