Do we come to conclusions before the problem has been heard? “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is shame and folly to him” (Prov. 18:13).
I am reminded of Eli. He came to a conclusion about Hannah before he heard from her. Had he stopped and just asked her what she was doing, he might not have prejudged her to be drunk. Sure enough, it exposed his folly.
Do we find this hard? Isn’t it easier to come to a conclusion before we have heard the whole matter? But then we learn that our conclusion was not even in the same ballpark as what we had prejudged.
Here is a story of a middle-aged man who entered a restaurant and walked directly to the waitress. “Do you have anything that will cure the hiccups?’ he asked the waitress. Without a word, the waitress reached down under the check-in table, picked up a wet rag, and slapped the man across the face with it. “Hey! What’s the idea?” the astonished man said. The waitress smiled, “Well, you don’t have the hiccups anymore, do you?” she asked. “I never did,” the man replied. “I wanted something to cure my wife’s hiccups. She is out in the car!” OOPS!
When someone is sharing his point of view with us, I must try to: listen, ask questions, listen again, ask more questions, listen some more, then respond. When someone tells us something about another person we need to ask, “Have you talked to that person?” It probably turns out that the issue in question is not the issue at all. If I perceive a certain action by another to be unfavorable or insulting to me, before I seek to understand or for clarification, I will probably conclude wrong 99.9% of the time. It may be that the person was not thinking of me at all. See, I may have concluded the answer before I found out the real answer.
What can we do to avoid this kind of surmising about each other? First, I need to look at myself before I look at others. I must make sure the beam is out of my eye. I must make sure I am clean in motive and action. That is hard because we never see ourselves objectively 100% of the time.
Second, if I am the one answering before I hear, I need to get all the facts first. Try to avoid exaggeration.
Third, remember the Golden Rule. If it were me, how would I want to be treated? That is true regardless of which side we come from.
Fourth, give the benefit of the doubt regardless of where we are. Both need it. Giving the benefit of the doubt is easy until there is something to give the benefit of the doubt about.
Ultimately, go to the one in question. Then we receive the information from them...and we also build a relationship.