GET REAL

Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Different recollections of the same event does not a liar make.

In my work, I often have the opportunity to interview an individual and gather his or her perspective of a conflict-based interaction or conversation with a colleague. In a separate conversation, I may interview the other individual who participated in the exchange and—very often—I receive a completely different rendition of the interaction. In addition, I often hear inaccurate assumptions about where the other person is most likely coming from. Over time, I am impressed with just how often this dynamic comes into play, and gets in the way of effective communication and collaboration.

I’m sure you’ve experienced similar situations at work—or at home. This is what I’ve found to be the most important thing I’ve learned about this interesting dynamic. Remember that different memories of the same event does not a liar make. Each person may remain genuinely anchored to his or her memory and perspective of the situation. And, someone’s perspective, however different from another’s, is not necessarily intended to be adversarial.

The most powerful component in any conflict resolution between two or more people, however challenging, is a genuine intent—on all parts—to work well together and communicate more effectively. During a challenging conversation, remember to ask clarifying questions and openly offer your perspective. If you find yourself upset, frustrated, or simply confused, after an interaction with another, it’s never too late to approach the person and have an open conversation to clarify each other’s views, and work together towards a mutually beneficial solution.

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