The Other Side of the Story - The Other Side of the Coin

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The Other Side of the Story - Giving People the Benefit of the Doubt

The misconception that others should be, think and act just as we do is an obstacle to judging them favorably, as an Ohrnet reader points out:


Not everyone in this world is a jovial person or "all smiles" all the time. Some people may be more serious by nature than others. They say, "You can't turn an orange into an apple." I have had the experience more than a few times while walking down the street, feeling content, when some tactless do-gooder walking past me says, "It can't be all that bad…Smile!" Or, I am at a simcha (celebration) feeling happy (and at least I think I am smiling) and another tactless person comes up to me and says, "Smile, after all this is a simcha." In each case, I am instantly plunged into depression and despair. Don't these people realize that comments like these are like saying, "Smile, you look like a truck just ran over you."

You may want to be helpful, but if you don't know the person's nature you may be guilty of speaking ona'at devarim (hurtful words). Before making tactless comments, first stop and think. You never know what's on another person's mind or from what situation they just left. Wouldn't it be better to compliment the person instead? Saying something like, "Those colors look beautiful on you," or "Is that a new tie (outfit, etc.), it's very nice," would be much more effective in getting the desired results.

A naturally happy or jovial person might not relate to this; however, just know that people out there are working on themselves and trying to improve.


The Other Side of the Story Archives

Based on "The Other Side of the Story" by Mrs. Yehudis Samet, ArtScroll Series

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