#1 Reason Whose Truth is in the Middle Matters
The phrase ‘the truth is in the middle’
My first introduction to ‘the truth is in the middle’ was when I was very young.
My brother and I would be fighting about something of great importance until our Mom came, separated us and sent us each to our room until Dad came home. As she closed our bedroom doors she would say: “Think about it until your Dad comes home.” We would hear Dad get home, talk with Mom and head up the stairs. Never playing favorites, sometimes he would come to my room first, sometimes to my brother’s first.
He would come in, sit down and say the same thing every time: “Without giving any excuses, explain what happened.”
Explaining without giving an excuse meant we had to really think about what happened, not just tell Dad our side of the story. Having had time to think about it before talking with Dad meant we had to think about each other and the other side. What had begun with each of us wanting to defend how right we were usually ended with our issue resolving itself when we talked it out with Dad.
My next introduction to ‘the truth is in the middle’ was on the debate team.
That definitely took it up a notch. We would be split into two teams, given a topic, and we would pick what position we wanted to defend. Each of us would make our convincing arguments. We then had to switch. This changed how I think of both exploring and respecting perspective and changed me forever.
Another introduction to it was in my sales career.
I was having a problem with one of my team members and went to my boss. He listened and then asked if I had done everything I could to try to work it out with my team member. I hadn’t. His advice was to come to him only if we couldn’t resolve the issue together and, if we couldn’t, we needed to work together to identify the points of our issues and explain what we couldn’t resolve. Yes, we were always able to work things out because when we knew we had to talk things through, each of our perspectives became stronger and we sometimes came up with an even better solution than either of us had originally.
Another valuable lesson from my sales career was when I was in a particularly challenging situation with one of my clients. They were having issues they clearly saw as caused by the company I worked for and our company clearly saw the issues as having been caused by the client. I was in the middle! I knew if both sides weren’t careful, each would dig in and the expense would be, at the very least, a satisfied client, and unfortunately so much more.
“The truth is in the middle.”
I shared the situation with my husband Jack who, based on his career, faced challenging situations like this frequently. Jack’s a very thoughtful man, a great listener and a deep thinker. I shared my perspective and the information I had and then sat quietly and waited. I’ve learned when he delays before responding to something I’ve said, it’s because he’s thinking. He was silent for what seemed like an hour – and was most likely only moments – and said simply: “The truth is in the middle.”
I asked him to explain what he meant and he said that in any conflict or challenge, each of us has our version of the truth. We believe our truth to be ‘the truth’. Rarely is one of us 100% right and rarely is one of us 100% wrong. It’s when we’re able to listen to the other person’s truth that we can find the real truth.
This fascinated me and became my perspective moving forward, helping me through every challenge I face, even when struggling with something on my own.
In the past few years I’ve discovered valuable layers to this saying through the range of experiences in my life both personally and professionally.
Do you find your truth in the middle?