Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Think and Act 6.11.14 – Don’t Say Dumb Things When You’re Uncomfortable

I have no idea if this is a trend, but it’s something I’ve experienced multiple times recently. Sometimes people say some really dumb things when they’re not comfortable. I realize “dumb” is a strong word. I’m not suggesting people are dumb. Look, some things we say are really dumb.

So here’s what I’m talking about. Our family is home to a special needs daughter. I get it when people don’t know what to say. Often I am in a situation when I am unsure what to say. I’ve not read a ton about this, but here are a couple of hunches, nothing more.

1. Don’t try to explain things you don’t understand.

Someone recently told me that our daughter’s condition might be due to some chemical. I was clearly communicating that genetics contribute to her condition as much as anything else, but this individual insisted it might be a chemical.

Another conversation I recently had with someone went along a similar line. Someone had done research and was nearly insistent that their research could fix our child, DESPITE me communicating the genetic issues.

Listen, these are well intentioned people in uncomfortable situations saying things that are way beyond their scope. That will lead to point number two.

2. If you don’t have a relationship, be very careful what you say.

This is true in situation like a special needs child, or even a difficult illness or death. The more uncomfortable you are, perhaps the less you should say. There is nothing wrong with a genuine “I really don’t know what to say but I think you should know I care” or something like that. That will get your point across way better than the mouth dumpsters some people unknowingly unleash.

3. If you can’t relate, be very careful what you say.

A person grieving knows the loved one best. They also know best how they feel and how they’re doing. They don’t need your words to “cheer them up” or “help them through”.  A parent of a special needs child knows their child better than anyone and is likely protective of that child in ways you can’t understand. Your words attempting to fill the space will most likely offend.

Personally, I appreciate people who are concerned, but don’t know what to say.  A newer neighbor once yelled across the driveway about our daughter: “What’s wrong with her?” They had lived there for a few weeks. I wanted to yell back “What’s wrong with YOU?” but I didn’t. I really did appreciate the honesty. She was asking out of concern and we had a great conversation.

Think. Before you go into an uncomfortable situation (and yes, I think you should go), you should think about what to say. Prepare to ask intelligent questions or have a genuine statement that expresses concern.

Act. I would never hesitate to say something if you care. Simply be careful to evaluate the relationship and how much you can relate. The closer the relationship and the more you can relate, the easier it gets. The less you know them and the less you can relate, the less you should say.

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