by Rick Warren — May 13, 2021
“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
James 3:17 (NIV)
Do you know two of the biggest mistakes people make in relationships? One, they react to what someone says without considering how that person feels. Two, they invalidate someone’s feelings because they don’t feel that way themselves.
The antidote for both of these is the same: Simply be considerate.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these mistakes and what you can do instead.
Mistake #1: Reacting without trying to understand.
People often pay too much attention to someone’s words and not enough attention to the emotions behind the words. When a person is angry, they often say things they don’t mean. They exaggerate and use words they didn’t intend to use. Instead of just listening to the words, look for the emotions behind the words. People don’t always say what they mean—but they always feel what they feel.
If you’re wise in relationships, you’ll be considerate of feelings. Don’t just focus on what your kid, spouse, neighbor, or boss says—words that may trigger your anger. Instead, be mindful of what those people may be feeling. When people are rude and unkind, they are screaming to the world, “I’m in pain!” Hurt people always hurt people. And it’s actually the unkind people who need your kindness the most.
Mistake #2: Invalidating any feelings that you don’t feel yourself.
When you don’t feel the same emotion someone else feels, you may dismiss their feelings altogether. Let me ask you this: Can one person be cold and another be warm while being in the same room at the same time? Yes. So why try to argue people out of what they feel?
When you dismiss someone’s feelings, you minimize the other person. Someone may say to you, “I feel stupid.” Don’t just dismiss it by saying, “You’re not stupid.” Instead, say, “Why do you feel that way? What makes you say that?” You need to look beyond the words and get to the real issue.
Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They’re just there. No one has to defend their feelings. They just need you to say, “I hear you.”
The Bible says, “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17 NIV).
With heaven’s wisdom, you can stop ignoring and invalidating other people’s feelings. You can let your friend feel tired and not try to talk her out of it. You can let your spouse feel sad and not try to talk him out of it. Wise people are considerate of other people’s feelings.