“A wise man restrains his anger and overlooks insults. This is to his credit.” Ancient Middle Eastern Proverb
A lot of people don’t know this, but overlooking people’s mistakes works in our favor. When someone makes a mistake, the natural response is to let them know. We hope by doing so, they will correct it. Different people go about it differently according to their personalities. Some people are very direct and confrontational, others are indirect.
If we really want to do something that will favor us, and not surprisingly the other person as well, we will try to overlook a lot of mistakes. And let’s face it. In most relationships, the majority of mistakes are minor mistakes.
There is something miraculous and counter-intuitive that happens when we overlook people’s faults. They don’t make more mistakes. They make fewer mistakes. I think each of us has a conscience that tells us when we make mistakes. When we make mistakes, we usually know that we’ve erred. We don’t need anyone to tell us that we are making a mistake. We need help to improve. When someone ignores our mistakes or overlooks them, their grace actually empowers us to do better.
Overlooking our mistakes allows us to save face and enables us to actually do better next time because we don’t have to deal with the guilt that comes from being “exposed” to others in our weaknesses.
I know that not every mistake can be overlooked. Some destroy the fabric of the relationship so much that they need to be addressed quickly. But these are very few.
If the first reason we should overlook other’s mistakes is that it is in our favor to do so, a second reason might be that it’s good to overlook these mistakes because we ourselves do the same things to others, sometimes without even knowing. If people started calling out the minor mistakes we make, it will take away from the time we have to focus on building a positive relationship. We will start majoring on the minors instead of majoring on the majors.
One of my favorite philosophers and thinkers, the ancient King, Solomon, said, “Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you— for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.”
It’s really not worth it to pay attention to every word people say. It’s so much better to ignore some of what they say and do to focus on the big things that bring us together. It’s not only our politicians that need to learn this lesson. We all need to!