It’s remarkable how much my recollection of an earlier conversation (okay, argument) differs from others who were involved.
During times of interpersonal conflict, I sometimes think it would be cool to have my pockets stuffed with challenge flags, like those used by football coaches. Whenever a friend or colleague missed a call I believe should go my way, I could pull out a red flag and sardonically throw it to the ground.
After tossing the flag, we all would gather around the replay monitor to watch an unbiased video of what really transpired. In this make-believe world, I’d be the winner every time.
In reality, memory is not one of my strong suits.
For years, Scott Stanley, a very smart researcher and Director of the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program in Denver, has warned me that I do myself no favors by trying to recreate a former scenario. He says that, if my goal is to seek a positive outcome to a disagreement, it makes little difference if my version is accurate or not.
The selfish side of me fights this advice because it desperately wants a checkmark in the win column. The thoughtful side of me really hopes for some sort of helpful resolution, a win for everyone. In the meantime, my hand keeps reaching for red flags.
Instead of looking to the replay booth, Dr. Stanley encourages me to start with what’s on the playing field at the moment, to earnestly inquire, “Where can we go from here?”
So, I’m working on emptying my pockets of imaginary challenge flags. Instead, I will only strive for win-wins.