There are 3 Sides to Every Story.
A police officer once told me...
"There are 3 sides to every story.
There is your side
There is their side
An somewhere in the middle, there is the truth"
That day, my life changed as to how I told stories and how I received stories .
What happens when we tell a story?
We attach emotion to the story to make it more enjoyable and believable to the person listening.
Everyone tells their perspective of their interaction with the circumstance they are speaking of.
And sometimes the story teller creates new events that take place to spice up the truth to make it more exciting.
When in Grade 1, did you play telephone?
Back when I was in grade 1, cell phones and cordless phones were non existent.
A teacher encouraging the class to play a game called telephone in this day and age would be way to distracting.
But not back in 1981!
The class would sit in a circle on the reading rug.
The teacher would pick one student and pull them aside.
She would whisper into their ear a story, only once.
"Johnny had to cut the grass, take out the garbage and feed his cat after school."
Then the child would go back and sit beside their classmate in the circle and whispers the story they heard in the ear of the child next to her.
We all can imagine the classic outcome.
The teacher asks the last child who heard the story to stand up and repeat it.
The story from the child sounded something like:
"Johnny was cutting the grass and cut off the cats tail so he threw it in the garbage."
Then the teacher tells the original story and everyone laughs.
As children we are told the lesson of how its not nice to speak about others as the story can get twisted.
Did we listen?
Have you ever been somewhere with a friend on a road trip, seminar, or concert?
Then after being with a group of people to start telling your story. Your travel buddy seemed to be on a totally different planet than you with the story of their experience in the moment, yet you both were experiencing the same thing at the same time.
Have you ever been in a situation where you are in a car accident, in an argument, or witness a man catching a fish.
Each person's story of what they say, what they heard and how they acted are going to be different every time.
How many times have you amped up a story to make it better? (How big WAS that fish?)
How many times have you put extra emotion into an argument to share just how hurt you were? (How loud did they yell at you?)
What is your payoff?
Everyone wants everyone else on their side.
They want the person to show empathy.
They want to be entertaining.
They want the person to share the emotion.
They want to persuade the person to march with them in their pissy pant parade.
Here is my experience over the last 20 years after that police officer told me there were 3 sides to every story.
Everyone has their own truth of the story. - No two stories are identical and that is ok.
Even if you believe the other is lying. It is still their story and it has nothing to do with you. (Even if it is about you)
Some people are better story tellers than others. - There is a saying "He lies so often he believes it as true."
Those people who add 2 extra inches to the length of the fish, or 4 extra roll overs to the car they witnessed getting into an accident, it causes self gratifying emotion and that is the pay off.
My 3 Simple Tips to You:
1. You as a listener to a story have the choice to listen.
2. You as listener to a story have the choice to believe it.
3. You as a listener to a story have the choice to repeat it.
My 3 Actionable Questions
1. What is my payoff of listening to this story?
2. What is my payoff if I believe this story?
3. What is my payoff if I repeat this story?
Write your answers down. You might find a bit of discovery along the way.
Moral to the story:
Gossip is only created by repetition.