Don’t be Naive: When listening to a Teller of Tales

Disclaimer: This articles is Not directed towards any organisation, individual, animal or human, living or non-living, especially secure or insecure, or any category whatsoever.

People talk whether you like it or not

I had just reached home from a long day at work when I started telling my wife about a story I heard at work. She argued that no matter what the story was about, there are always 3 sides to a story. Yes, there are 2 sides to every story AND, literally, a salt and peppered unique version of the same story by every single person who hears it.

It is fascinating to hear how stories and even facts can change when told by different people. Whether we like it or not, we always tend to add our own opinion and touch to every story that we tell. In most cases, we twist the stories in ways to benefit ourselves by setting ourselves as the victim or the victor. And sometimes, it might just be to make the story appealing to the listeners. I’ve witnessed this happen throughout my life with close friends, family and professional environments. And let’s be honest here, everyone has done it at some point.

In my opinion, everyone is selfish with no exception. There is always a self centered benefit to every thing that anyone does. Time and experience have proven to me again and again that almost all principles including trust can be easily betrayed on the bases of selfishness and self preservation. Before you think I am saying people have no principles, what I am saying is that even the idea of having principles has an internal selfish need that is being satisfied.

Let’s be honest, liking or disliking the person telling you the story or the people involved Will affect your judgment. But also ignoring whether you like or dislike the people in the story is almost impossible. In addition, we tend to like or dislike someone even if we don’t know them or haven’t heard of them before simply by listening to a story about them. Therefore, the story, the people involved in the story and the people narrating the story will affect your judgement.

Which is why I no longer “listen” to what people have to say but consider listening a data collection process to finally reach a conclusion that best fits my own logic. What does that mean? Let’s say someone comes with news about a conflict between two people. I listen to both sides then listen to the rumors coming from the people around. It takes a couple of days and in some cases weeks for all the information to reveal itself which is why patience is required. Once all the data is collected, assuming I’ve heard everything, I decide on what is right or wrong and the final version that I would like to remember of the story. The version that takes into consideration my knowledge of the people involved and one that satisfies my logic.

Be Wise

I write this article hoping to give you a point of view and perspective that took me years to reach about people, rumors and storytelling. Whenever you listen to a story, especially involving people, try to avoid judging and keep a skeptical state of mind (which is almost impossible but at least try). As you hear these people talk, ask yourself is this really how or what happened? Are they adding their own bias to the story? How does telling me this benefit them? Don’t think of it as trying to question everyone’s intentions and loyalty but rather a truthful way of trying to really “listen” to the person in front of you.

This mindset has saved me many times from getting myself into trouble on a personal and professional level. And believe me when I say that you are not being a bad person by questioning people’s perspective but simply trying to avoid being the most ignorant person in the room.

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