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Multiple truths


In principle, it is very rare for any two or more people to agree that a certain thing happened exactly the same way or for exactly the same reasons. How things look always depends on where one sits and no two people have the same perspective.

Many times I have heard a single event described by multiple people in multiple ways. He says this happened and she says that happened. Does this mean that one is right and one is wrong, or that one is lying and one is telling the truth? Maybe, but if they are honest people with good intentions they are probably both telling the truth as they see it.

Groups can spend huge amounts of energy and create huge amounts of conflict trying to agree on a single version of the truth. Such activities rarely end peacefully or constructively.

Practical Tip: Say, “I can see how that’s true for you.” Understand that although someone might have a different truth than you, it’s true for them. More often than not, it doesn’t matter what really happened or why. I don’t need to beat my fellows into seeing things my way. My group is much better served if we can find a solution that honors both your truth, whatever it is, and my truth, whatever it is.

Instead of wrestling with “this or that,” try “this and that.” Allow that seemingly contradictory things can both be true for different people with different perspectives. It’s amazing how much conflict can be avoided, how much respect can be preserved, and how much creativity can unfold when we allow for multiple truths.

-Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

13 thoughts on “Multiple truths

  1. This was precisely the answer I’d been searching for. Incredibly inspirational! Your posts are so helpful. Thanks a lot 🙂

  2. I couldnt have said it any better to be honest! keep up the awesome work. You are very talented & I only wish I could write as good as you do 🙂 …

  3. Great points, Craig. In the consultancy where I work (, which deals with organization development, they cite the multiple-truth idea as a reason for bringing many people, with as many perspectives, to bear on each situation or issue. The theory is that the more perspectives you include, the closer you can get to a complete picture of the issue at hand–and the smarter the organization’s decisions about how to address it. One more application of the multiple-truth idea.

  4. How true, I continue to be amazed at how two people can see things totally different, yet, each sees their own position as rock solid. Of course, I know *I* am right!

  5. This one is particularly good Craig. Thanks so much for continuing to do this – and for sending them along to me.

  6. Great TIP, although depending upon our personality, some will have a greater challenge to implement in our meetings.

  7. Truth indeed. What’s most important is not to see whether you are right and the other person is wrong. The focus should be on what works for both party and thus we will suspend our judgement and move forward with better understanding of each other. Namaste.

  8. This tip is so practical and easy to understand. If people buy into this, so much time would be saved and hurt feelings avoided. Thanks for your good work.

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