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The Fact is Also the Fundamental Lie (Part Two)

Photo by Todd

Photo by Todd

In part one of this post, we left Janice* and Rhonda* in Janice’s office.  Janice, the manager of her company’s governance group, is furious that Rhonda, who works for her, has been circumventing the process that the PMO is supposed to be enforcing.  Furthermore, I’d learned in out initial complimentary consultation that Janice has built some resentment towards Rhonda because of some things she’s observed Rhonda doing over the last year, but Janice never addressed it.

In the consultation phase, Janice had invited me to observe one of her meetings.  Immediately, I could see from Janice’s body language and tone that she didn’t relish working with Rhonda (and I bet Rhonda and everyone else in the room could sense this, too).

When I asked her about it, Janice denied it saying, “Oh no, I like Rhonda just fine.”

When I asked her about it again, Janice admitted, “Well, I like her out of work, but at the office, I don’t trust her.”  And then, she related all of the things Rhonda had done that had engendered this distrust (all unbeknownst to Rhonda), and it came out that what Janice really thinks is that Rhonda was trying to sabotage her.

Folks, what Janice is doing is looking at a set of events, and then making a determinations about Rhonda’s intentions.  We all do this because we create memories by distilling down events into stories.  What we distill our experience down to (what we notice as important) is shaped by our thinking habits formed by previous experience and by how we’re feeling at the time. That’s why my memory of an event may be very different from yours.

Did you get the part where we create our own stories?  It’s true.  We make it up.  And then, these stories become our facts.

When Janice and I debriefed after the meeting, there was no suggesting to Janice that she might benefit from re-examining how she came to the conclusion about Rhonda’s intentions.  In fact, Janice got a little testy about it even as I asked the question.  She didn’t think she needed a coach, and so that was the end of that part of the interaction.

So, where we pick this story up, Janice has just said to Rhonda, “You always try to undermine me.”

Always is a strong word.  Very rarely does anyone *always* do anything, so use this one with caution.

I am guessing from what Janice related next was that Rhonda felt blindsided and accused.  What we all do when we feel blindsided and accused?

We defend ourselves.

And, that’s exactly what Rhonda did.

How do you think the rest of that conversation went?  Do you think that Janice got any more information about why Rhonda was circumventing the governance process?  Do you think Rhonda will go the extra mile the next time Janice needs something?  Do you think Rhonda heard any feedback that she might have been able to use to perform better?

Not only was this a wasted hour of both Janice’s and Rhonda’s time, but Rhonda wouldn’t so much as look at Janice for days.  I’d bet she spent more time focused on her anger than getting her job done.  In the end, it did some pretty significant damage to their relationship…. which is why Janice called me back.

Tomorrow… Rhonda’s side of the story.

Be Your Best You Today,


*Though I have permission to share this story, names have been changed to protect their privacy.

p.s. – Does this story sound at all familiar to you?  Anyone have an “oh crap” moment when they realized that they might have made an assumption about someone else’s intentions?  This is part of the foundation of Improve Performance NOW! We eliminate the wasted energy that’s put into hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and the constant booty-covering because we change the way our clients participate in these conversations.  We teach them how to create a high trust environment.  Register for our no-obligation review call today.

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