Getting the wrong end of the stick is a phrase to explain when someone misunderstands, misinterprets, or misconstrues a situation. It occurs when we misunderstand what someone has said, or we misunderstand a situation.
It’s fairly easy to “get the wrong end of the stick” if you are not careful, are prone to jump to conclusions, have a low self-esteem, or are easily offended. Case in point would be today when my eldest daughter texted me a link to a website. We have six beautiful children and our youngest is now eight so I know what it is to have some extra after baby kilo’s to lose, and the work it takes to do so. Today my daughter innocently sent me the link to a website called “losebabyweight.com” and then attached a healthy recipe for one of my favourite desserts – sticky date pudding. I had quickly looked at the first part of the message and wondered briefly why she was sending me a losing baby weight website, and if it was her subtle way of telling me I still had baby weight to lose. I could easily have “gotten the wrong end of the stick”, especially if I had been feeling bad about myself, or had been lacking in confidence about my appearance. As a result I could have misconstrued the situation, and even gotten offended.
However I did none of those things because I stopped and reread the message again, took the time to check out the yummy recipe, and realised she was helping me by finding a healthy sugar free alternative that I would make. We had a chuckle and I commented back, “no baby fat, just stretch marks”, and that was that.
But you can see how “getting the wrong end of the stick” can easily cause a lot of misunderstandings, and often be the culprit for people getting offended. We all at times need to stop and make sure we aren’t “getting the wrong end of the stick” by choosing instead to hear the other’s person’s heart regarding what they are doing or saying, and disciplining ourselves to not jump to conclusions because of our own undealt with issues, self esteem, or mindsets about particular situations, people and subjects. Many a friendship has been broken up, relationships have suffered, families have been torn apart, workplaces have become toxic, and even churches have become places of offence and bitterness, rather than centres of love and understanding, through people “getting the wrong end of the stick.”
All of us can benefit from continually being students of good communication and people skills, and determining to walk in grace and understanding on a daily basis. To make an effort to hear people’s hearts, and to take a look at what they are really saying rather than misinterpreting or misconstruing often innocent or just not well-communicated information. How much more joyful would our world be if we chose to not “get the wrong end of the stick” with others and to rather make an effort to communicate better to those around us?
So how about we throw that stick away, and extend our hand and heart’s instead, as we seek to stop, listen and understand.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” (Proverbs 10:1)
“Don’t say anything that would hurt (another person). Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you.” (Ephesians 4:29 God’s Word Translation)
Prayer: Lord please help me to not jump to conclusions or misunderstand what someone has said when I am relating to others. I don’t want to live life getting offended or being constantly on guard around others. Help me to let go of all of those things, and to trust you to take care of my heart as I seek to listen, love and understand. In Jesus Name Amen.