Genesis: 37:4 "And his brothers saw that their father loved him (Yosef) from all the brothers and they hated him and were not able to speak with him in peace."
The brothers were jealous of the favoritism that their father Yaakov showed to Yosef. Yaakov had given Yosef a special woolen coat as a reward for his diligence in Torah learning, an action that the Talmud actually criticizes him for. Yosef would also bring reports to his father of what he thought were inappropriate behaviors by his brothers. As a result, the brothers developed a hatred for him and were not able to speak to him in peace.
In his commentary, Rashi points out that this hatred was certainly shameful. On the other hand, we do see something praiseworthy. The brothers were not two-faced. They didn't mask their hatred, put on a fake smile or pretend to like him. Their outside behavior was congruent with their inner feelings. Deceit and phoniness have no place in Judaism. Yes, the brothers should have tried to speak to Yosef to resolve the conflict and should have tried to make peace, but at least they were true to their feelings and acted genuinely. Perhaps this can teach us to always look for the good in another. The Torah is pointing out to us something to praise the brothers for even though their relationship with Yosef was far from healthy. Looking for the good and praising it no matter what else is happening seems to be a lesson we can take from this verse.
Rabbi Yonasan Eybishitz has a different way of understanding this verse. He says that the hatred started and was perpetuated precisely because “they were not able to speak to him in peace.” Had the brothers and Yosef spoken out the misunderstandings and the issues that were bothering them, the hatred would not have resulted. He says that this is usually the reason for all arguments and strife; that the parties have not spoken out their concerns and have not listened to the other. People make assumptions; draw erroneous conclusions, judge situations negatively, which leads to stonewalling and cut off. The hatred grows deeper as the lack of communication continues
We know this pattern from our own experience - when we harbor a strong dislike of another person and hold onto it, the negative emotion festers and just gets stronger. We build constructs and schemas in our mind that vilify and demonize the other person. Once we speak about it however to the other person and try to clarify the issues, we often realize that there were a host of misunderstandings that led to our negative thoughts and attributions.
This is why the Torah tells us: “Do not hate your brother in your heart;” We are not supposed to harbor ill-feeling for our fellow Jews in our hearts. When the person is ready to speak and listen, it is best to communicate our honest feelings. If the brothers would have taken this action, their hatred might have dissipated, and the terrible sequence of events that transpired might not have happened.
I might add that when the communication does take place that it be done “in peace.” Screaming, sarcasm, and defensiveness are not effective ways to communicate. It is wise for the parties to be calm and are ready to communicate peacefully before making the attempt.