I Don’t Believe It!

Recently, I was running a leadership and negotiation exercise, which involved participants attempting to determine who they could and could not trust. The exercise required that participants work with one another and included various techniques for verifying the truth or falsehood of someone’s claims.

The dynamic between two of the participants, we’ll call them Fred and Barney, became extremely interesting: Fred needed Barney’s help, but Fred was convinced that Barney was lying to him and looking for a way to double-cross him on a business deal. Barney, meanwhile, was going to great lengths to prove that he was telling the truth and dealing in good faith. The more evidence Fred found that demonstrated Barney was telling the truth, the more Fred was sure he was lying. Not only was Fred not convinced, he even came up to me and complained that he thought that Barney was violating the rules of the exercise because he was clearly lying. When the exercise was over and I debriefed the participants, Fred was stunned when he found out that Barney was telling the truth all along.

Part of the value of this particular exercise is that behavior in the exercise tends to correlate well with behavior in the office. Unlike the exercise, however, in real life we don’t have any magical means of verifying the truth. Of course, as we can see, even that doesn’t necessarily matter. Once an opinion is formed, sometimes nothing will change it. That may be fine in some obscure situations, but in business it can get you in trouble.

Read the rest at Corp! Magazine

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