I watched programme on tv recently about car crashes. (No I’m not sure why either). One particular lady was driving in a straight line in heavy traffic through a junction and another car crossed in front of her. She hit the car hard and it actually tipped up onto it’s side briefly. She had a dash camera so you could actually see the accident happen. At the first viewing I initially thought she was obviously driving far too fast and was at fault. An eye witness said exactly the same and so did her insurance company. However, luckily for her, she had a dash camera which recorded everything including her speed. She was actually driving at 19mph and once they slowed it all down, you could clearly see that she had a green light and the right of way. When she showed the eye witness the video footage he was genuinely surprised because he had been sure that she was speeding.
Studies of accidents have also shown that eye witness reports are very inaccurate and often there will several people who seem to have seen completely different accidents.
Who is telling the truth?
The funny thing is that they are all telling the truth. Well, unless they have something to hide. Each person who witnesses something will have an emotional response and will be paying attention to probably one thing when there is total chaos all around. And each person genuinely believes that they are giving an accurate description of what happened.
The same thing happens when you have a disagreement with someone. Here is an example of this:
Sam and Josh were introduced at a party. It was busy and lots of alcohol had been consumed. Sam was distracted and didn’t realise that they were being introduced and so Josh then assumed that she was rude and didn’t like him. Josh then kept that emotional response in mind on a conscious and subconscious level every time they were at a social event together until it made both of them very uncomfortable and Sam had no idea why. When a mutual friend and peacemaker spoke to Josh about it, he complained about some of the gatherings and said that Sam had been rude about him, his plans, his job and actually held her hand up to his face in a “back off” gesture when they had first met. The mutual friend had been there and knew that Josh was incorrect.
But was he lying? I don’t think he was. Josh had created a negative emotional response to Sam for whatever reason. Maybe she subconsciously reminded him of someone who had upset him in the past. Whatever the reason, Josh just could not see past this and genuinely built up each meeting into something it wasn’t. But for him it was real and the more he focused on the events, the more real it became and the more drama was added to it. Maybe he was exaggerating the events a little but in his head, they were real.
As for Sam, she was in the dark as to why he didn’t like her. But she realised very quickly that this was his issue. Not hers.
The next time you find yourself in an argument with someone who is telling a very different version of events from you, remember that they might not be lying. They might actually believe that they are telling the truth. And it might just be the truth as they remember it. And there is no obvious way to tell the difference.