Feb 082013 2 Responses

People Make Irrational Choices Rationally (or Why Your Teenage Son Thought He Had a Good Idea)

If you don’t understand how someone can think the way they do, you aren’t listening to them.

People make irrational choices rationally. It may not be rational to us, but it is rational to them. It makes sense; it’s the most logical conclusion they can assume.

Knowing this process of decision making makes it possible to understand others. We may not agree with them, but we can understand them. With understanding comes empathy and the ability to find common ground.

  • Do you understand why your political opponent voted opposite of you?
  • Do you see why your boss didn’t like your idea?
  • Do you have empathy toward your spouse’s position even if you disagree?
  • Can you comprehend how someone can see the world from a totally different vantage point?

Failing to understand another person’s position is not a sign of irrational thought on their part. It is a sign of failure on our part to take the time to listen and comprehend how they have come to their conclusion.

The following statements are warning signs that we aren’t listening to others:

  • “What are they thinking?”
  • “They are idiots.”
  • “I don’t understand them.”
  • “They don’t love their country like we do.”
  • “They aren’t as moral as we are.”
  • “They have no values.”

Anytime we find ourselves saying these words, we should stop and make a second attempt at understanding how the other person has come to their conclusion.

We do not have to agree with them, but we do owe them the respect of seeking to understand their position.

With understanding comes empathy; and empathy is far more important than agreement.  

Who do you think is irrational? How have you failed to understand them?

2 Responses to People Make Irrational Choices Rationally (or Why Your Teenage Son Thought He Had a Good Idea)
  1. Denny Neff Reply

    Pastor when you throw down the gauntlet, you really throw it. Listening is really the key. I think in order to test your listening ability, the next time you talk to someone, see how many times you start planning your rebuttal, even before they have finished what they are saying. I’ve found with the proper motivation a person can teach themselves to listen to a whole thought before launching ones retaliatory brain attack. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Kevin Reply

      Denny, maybe that’s why preaching is so fun–I don’t have to listen. Thanks for reading.

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