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Is It Really True?

After conflicts are ostensibly over an interesting phenomenon sometimes emerges. As we retell what occurred, our stories take on new and different versions. What we actually said gets replaced with what we wished we had said. What the other person said gets replaced with how we heard it, which isn’t always what was actually conveyed. The tone of our respective voices, the attitude we demonstrate, how we acted and other aspects of our communications are frequently distorted – and often in self-serving ways.

Why do we do this? Maybe it is to justify ourselves, to lay blame firmly and categorically on the other person, to make ourselves right and the other person wrong, or to garner sympathy, applause and support. These and other reasons keep the conflict alive and sometimes so strongly that we come to believe the new version.

The following questions will help you to check out whether you are exaggerating, embellishing or otherwise distorting the conflict story compared to how it actually happened.

  • What are you telling yourself or others that the other person said or did that isn’t altogether accurate?
  • What did the other person actually say or do that you are now distorting to some degree?
  • What are you saying you said or did that isn’t really accurate?
  • What did you actually say or do that you are now distorting to some degree?
  • For what reasons are you distorting what the other person said or did?
  • For what reasons are you distorting what you said or did?
  • What need is being met by sharing the incorrect version of your part in the conflict?
  • What need is your incorrect version of the other person’s part fulfilling?
  • What do you wish you said during the conflict that you didn’t? Why not?
  • What of the other person’s truths were hardest for you to hear? What truths that you conveyed were hardest for her or him to hear?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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