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Just the Facts Please


What is it with my family and getting things twisted?  In a recent phone conversation a family member reversed an important fact in a story she had told me just a few days earlier. It changed the scenario she was describing considerably.  When I noted she had reported the issue differently last week, she denied ever having said it in the first place!  No, I'm pretty clear about what she said.  This happens over and over in my family. What one is told one day changes the next. Always I am left frustrated and wondering which story is correct, or if the truth lies somewhere else entirely. 

I realize that two people can view the same situation very differently, so I understand when there is a conflict of opinion or details about something that occurred, but how can the same person retell the story with alternative "facts"?  I once had a supervisor that did this as well.  Each time he told the same story to someone new he embellished it a bit further, shining the light on himself a little brighter, until the final tale in no way resembled the original occurance.  And Lord help anyone who dared to note that the facts seemed to be getting distorted. 

I suspect this alteration of the facts becomes a habit to the point that the people who do this aren't even fully aware of the process going on.  When called on it they become vague or defensive.  Obviously, we all like to be the hero of the story, and we tell things in our own light, but for heaven's sake, don't alter the facts!

The same family members also apply this twisting of the facts to historical events in our family.  When discussing something that happened several years ago, suddenly I have it "all wrong", surely it didn't happen like that.  Well, actually, yes it did.  I am old, but my memory isn't that far gone yet.  I remember exactly how it occurred, and why are we even going there?  Leave the past in the past... PLEASE!

The results of often being told "twisted tales" is a total lack of trust in whatever I am being told by these individuals.  It also impacts my desire to share much of my own life, as those facts and stories tend to get distorted too.  Trust... so easily destroyed.

From a reflective standpoint, asking myself what lesson can be learned from this frustrating experience. I think it is to be ever vigilant myself to keep things simple and clear when telling someone about something, remembering to stick to the facts, and not to embellish them.  That is so much easier than trying to keep track of what you've told to whom.  I cannot change what anyone else is, but I want to be a person whose word is good and can be trusted.

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