This is such a simple statement, but it carries a lot of weight.

Read it again.

People tend to behave in a way that makes sense to them at the time.

It is a useful way to think – and gain understanding – for so many people:

A parent whose child has been making very poor choices.

A lawyer representing a difficult client.

An employer whose employee made a costly mistake.

A teacher who is frustrated by the bad behavior of her students.

An addictions counsellor working with clients who relapse.

Even an actor preparing for a challenging role.

Or simply anyone who is annoyed, confused or otherwise upset with someone else.

Stop and ask yourself: “Based on what I know about this person, why would it have made sense for them to act that way when they were in that moment?”

Go back and read what I wrote on September 24 about empathy.

True empathy requires a little more effort, but the rewards are greater for both parties.

The same goes for understanding the choices and behaviors of others.  By figuring out why it made sense to them, you can address the thinking behind the action.

Maybe when they weighed the options, this was the lesser of two evils.

Maybe they had made assumptions that turned out to be false.

Maybe this choice had worked before.

Maybe they didn’t know how to ask for what they really wanted.

Maybe the situation forced them to act quickly without being able to really weigh out the consequences of each choice.

Maybe they were taught to act this way.

If you don’t know the answer, ask.

Then you will begin to understand.

Once you have understanding around why, what will you do then?

Whatever makes sense to you, I suppose.