Instead of taking offense when someone is impolite to you, give them the benefit of the doubt and seek peace rather than engage in cattiness. Here are some practical suggestions to give people the benefit of the doubt!
Women can be really catty.
I’m 35 years old, and you would think gossiping and assuming things without finding out the truth would end once you’re in your thirties.
But that just doesn’t seem to be the case. I hear it all the time, both from online friends and real-life friends:
“That person is really stuck up. They never talk to me.”
“She just doesn’t want to be my friend.”
“I think this person and that other person have a clique.”
Hearing comments like these has put a burden on my heart. Because ladies, we’re not giving each other the benefit of the doubt!
I have been there, too. I was previously in a church where I felt like a lot of the women were stuck up. I’m not at that church anymore, but looking back, maybe I was having some issues in my personal life and I was misjudging them.
Here is the bottom line: If we make it about us when someone is “not talking” to us or not smiling at us or just sticking with their friends, we are being really self-centered.
3 ways to give people the benefit of the doubt
1. Consider your personality differences.
I am an extrovert so I generally try to get to know everyone as much as I can. I am not scared to go up and talk to people, unless it is a huge group where everyone knows each other except for me. If I’m the only brand-new person, I can be shy.
As a child I was painfully shy. If people who knew me as a child see me now, they think, “Oh my goodness you actually talk to people?” It took me years to outgrow my shyness.
I didn’t realize until I was older that sometimes people think that being shy is being stuck up.
Because I know this now and because of my experience as a child, when I see someone now who’s being taciturn or not smiling or not the life of the party, I try to look at the situation and think maybe that person is just shy.
Perhaps that person is introverted and feels comfortable with her own group of friends, but doesn’t come out of her shell with large groups. Maybe she does better with one-on-one friends.
Try to give her the benefit of the doubt, rather than jumping to conclusions that she’s snobby or cliquish or doesn’t like you as an individual.
Remember that we all have different personalities, and that’s a good thing! We’re not all going to be the life of the party. Even though I’m super extroverted, I’m certainly not that type! You won’t see me getting up on the table to dance. Maybe my sister, but not me!
Consider personality differences, and the next time you see someone being quiet, maybe you can take initiative to go talk to them!
2. Consider what might be going on in their personal life.
Maybe the reason she’s not talking to you or reciprocating your friendship is because she’s experiencing a loss you could never dream of.
My husband and I recently found out some health news and while it’s not life-threatening, it is future-altering. It’s hard, and not a lot of people know about it because it’s deeply personal. Walking through this situation has taught me to empathize with others who might be going through a secret trial.
Maybe they have marriage issues. Maybe they are up all night with a baby and are sleep-deprived. What you thought was a mean look was simply her trying to get through the day as best she can because she’s not fully awake!
Consider that you don’t know the whole story. Instead of judging and making it all about you, pray for them.
3. Realize that people can change.
You may have had a time in the past where you had a confrontation with somebody. Maybe you used to be friends, and you’re no longer friends for whatever reason. If years have passed, realize people change and we have to forgive.
Several years ago I went through a super tough time in my life, and I had to forgive like I had never forgiven before. During that time the Lord really drew close to me and showed me that He forgave me.
So I encourage you, if there is someone you had a confrontation with in the past, give that person the benefit of the doubt. Love them where they are. Realize we are all broken, hurting people and forgive.