The best thing I learned from Steven Covey’s book “The 7 habits of highly effective people”, was to first seek to understand then be understood. He gave an example of a man riding a train. In the train car was a man and his two young children. The two young children were running up and down the aisle of the train car yelling and playing loudly. The man with them was not paying attention and didn’t take control of them. The other man in the train car said to the man that he should take control of his children. The man said, yes I should, your right, we just came back from their mothers funeral and they don’t really understand how to handle it, and neither do I, I’m sorry.
The lesson is, we never know what someone else is going through. And we should keep this in mind before we judge them, or challenge their behavior. I read this from Covey’s book over fifteen years ago, and I still keep this lesson in mind as I negotiate my day with people who I may initially take as acting out of line.