Thought for the Day – Soren Kierkegaard on Being Misunderstood

People understand me so poorly that they don’t even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.”– Soren Kierkegaard

A client of mine many years ago was the CEO of a software start-up. Brilliant beyond belief, this CEO would get exasperated when prospects didn’t understand her. “They’re a bunch of idiots!” she would exclaim as she dismissed them. Since my job was to help translate her technospeak into business-speak, I patiently tried to remind her that those “idiots” controlled the budgets we were trying to win. Truth be told, I didn’t understand her most of the time either, earning me a place among the mental proletariat. Her response to being misunderstood was to write people off and move on. I’ve seen the opposite reaction too. A friend of mine, unfairly and publicly maligned by another over a misunderstanding, was so concerned about damage control, he could think of nothing else. He spent many hours on the phone with friends, explaining his side, and cataloguing a list of others who may have been influenced by the vitriol.

It’s impossible to live in such a way as to avoid being misunderstood. The question is, how will you respond when you are? Misunderstanding was at its apex in the crucifixion of Christ. Yet, through all the torture leading up to the crucifixion, and while He hung on the cross, Jesus didn’t curse His persecutors nor did He run around anxiously defending Himself. Instead, in the midst of excruciating pain, He simply prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Your thoughts? How do you most often respond when you’re misunderstood?

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