Do you know a good friend or family member who started saying or doing some bizarre things, acting like a different person?

You’ve known them so well for years, and suddenly you don’t recognize their reasoning or behaviour. It is so uncharacteristic; you find yourself saying, “This is so unlike him (her)”.

After two decades working closely with people, this is my awesomely intelligent finding: If behaviour seems uncharacteristic, it is. The default stance we must take as close friends or family is belief in their character. There is something deeper we are not seeing or hearing.

I can think of a few special people who have suffered unnecessarily and been hurt deeply by people close to them accepting stories or damning conclusions about sudden uncharacteristic behaviour.

You may ask, how can people close to the person default to believing uncharacteristic explanations about them? Surely they “know him (her) better than that”? When you know someone’s character from years of relationship, an aberration in behaviour should be questioned, not judged.  The person invariably needs great gentleness, something deep is troubling them, they’ve possibly been suffering something too long in silence and have run out of personal resources  (Beware a long period in deficit, as this is where chronic illness can take hold).

The most damage is done by people suddenly ‘forgetting’ a person’s character (track record) and finding what others say more compelling. They forget to believe in the person for who he (she) is.

Why suddenly stop believing in a person whose character you know?

It It is too easy to condemn someone instead of believing (remembering) they are the same person but under extraordinary pressure. This is the time to offer extraordinary support.

A listening ear, understanding and suspending judgement can make the difference for his (her) quicker recovery, and take your relationship to a new level.