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Three Sides to Every Story

Conflict Management Coaching Blog by Cinnie Noble

When we talk about an interpersonal dispute between two people, we commonly say there are two sides to every story – the other person’s version of events and issues and our own. However, many say there are three sides, and a relevant quote by Jeyn Roberts (Rage Within) is:

“There are three sides to every story.
Yours.
Mine.
What really happened: the truth.”

Honestly, I don’t think referring to the third side as the “truth” is altogether accurate. For me, referring to there being a true side implies right and wrong of the other perspectives, and it seems that’s not altogether the optimal approach. That is, when we are in conflict, it is usual that we each believe our perceptions are truths. We believe in what we say and experience. We might at some level of consciousness realize when and how our emotions interfere and drive our interpretation of the other person and their intent out of proportion. Or, we may be aware our truth contains assumptions and views that are not based on fact. Or, we know we are exaggerating – even fabricating – to serve ourselves.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider an ongoing, unresolved dispute you are involved in when answering the following questions – to consider three sides of the story:

  • What is the situation? What is your side of the story?
  • How might the other person describe their side of the story?
  • What is true for you about the situation that the other person doesn’t know or seem to acknowledge?
  • What don’t you know or understand about the other person’s version of their truth?
  • What is the truth about your contribution that you have some reluctance to share?
  • How might a third person observing the dispute describe what happened?
  • With what might that third person disagree that you said?
  • What is most challenging about facing the truths in this conflict?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?
                        author

Cinnie Noble

Cinnie Noble is a certified coach (PCC) and mediator and a former lawyer specializing in conflict management coaching. She is the author of two coaching books: Conflict Management Coaching: The CINERGY™ Model and Conflict Mastery: Questions to Guide You. MORE >

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