There is another skill we need to develop in order to avoid unfairly assassinating someone’s character: giving people credit for who they’ve proven to be over time.
Why are we so tempted to re-evaluate everything we think we know about a person in the moments when they hurt us?
People are going to hurt us, and that doesn’t mean that they are actually NOT kind, that they do NOT care, or that we’ve misunderstood them. (Understand, I’m not talking about abusive relationships here). It just means that relationships are difficult.
Here’s what we need to learn: don’t give negative experiences with a person more weight than positive ones. At least, don’t let one negative experience wipe out ten positive ones. Give people credit for their history.
How do we do this?
Talk. Have a conversation. When someone has a history of treating you well followed by a really bad experience, talk to them. Wait until you’ve processed it with some trusted people, wait until you’ve calmed down a bit, and then approach the conversation with a sense of humility. “Hey, ___ happened, and I’m hurt. Would you mind sharing your perspective with me on this?”
Having a conversation can go a long ways towards overcoming relational problems. It provides clarity on the events, which may resolve the conflict in an of itself, and it grounds us. It prevents us from too hasty in our judgments of others. That’s really our main goal: learning not to be too hasty in judging others.