Have you ever heard two completely different accounts of the same conversation and wondered which one was the truth?  Of course, it happens all the time.  But the problem is that when we hear two very different accounts of the same event we assume that one person is truthful and the other is telling a lie, which may not always be the case…

You see, when we absorb information, we process that information differently based on our lives experiences and our beliefs leading to a number of potential biases that skew the information we have taken in.  These cognitive biases affect the way we hear, the information we value and dismiss, the sides we take, the decisions we make and so much more, meaning that two quite different accounts of the same situation are entirely likely.

So instead of assuming that one is telling the truth and the other is not, why not examine their bias?  Ask what experiences they have that would make them recount the story in a certain way, examine their affiliations, try to understand the differences between the people and see if that explains the differences in the story.

And most importantly if you are having a significant conversation with someone, tie up all the loose ends before you finish.  Ensure that the key points are clear (and on paper), the outcomes and actions are agreed (and on paper) and that anything in dispute is clear (and on paper).

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Written by Lisa Smith

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Lisa is a professional thinker dedicated to helping people unlock their innate creativity and to empower them to think differently – for themselves. She is passionate about building innovative cultures and about harnessing and engaging talent to create thinking communities. Lisa holds an MBA, specialising in organisational change and innovation, which forms the nucleus of her work. She relishes opportunities to share the Minds at Work thinking strategies with government bodies, socially responsible corporate, educators, community groups and farmers, helping them to turn their big ideas into realities.