Lies upset people. They start conflicts. When people hear blatant untruths, defenses kick in. They jump to the quick and say they’re lies. They could be illusions though. People have them. They help them deal with reality. Thus, seeing people’s illusions as lies creates needless conflict.
Lies differ from illusions. People know their lies. They believe their illusions. This shows up on lie-detector tests. People who believe their lies pass. Those who know their lies fail. So, attacking one’s illusions is attacking one’s beliefs.
Common Workplace Scenario
For instance, consider this common workplace scenario. One employee interacts with another. The second employee then complains that the first attacked him. The first says she did not.
Now, assuming someone is lying is quite different from assuming illusions are at work, such as a misunderstanding or misjudgment. Lies are malicious. Illusions aren’t. Thus, seeing illusions as lies creates conflict before it’s warranted.
Seeing People’s Illusions
Obviously we can’t address this scenario. We don’t know enough. So, we investigate and decide. If a code of conduct exists, it will guide us. If not, it’s our call. Then, how we see things comes into play.
Of course, it’s natural to think, “Well, what’s considered an attack depends on your point of view.” True that means both the attacker and the attacked could be right.
Another way to look at it though is that the attacker is under the illusion that she did no harm, and the attacked is under the illusion that he was harmed. Yet, it’s easy for each side to think the event so cut and dry that the other must be lying.
Practically Working With People’s Illusions
Now, at work, there’s pressure to make a call on something like this. This creates needless conflict rushing to make it. Avoiding this means showing the attacker how one could see the interaction as an attack. It means showing the attacked how one might see that it was not.
It begins with “people are different.” Yes, it’s obvious. What’s not is just how vastly different they are. That’s one illusion at work here: seeing people as less different than they really are. The other is believing one already feels how different people are.
In the end, that means relentlessly emphasizing, “Some just don’t see it that way. It’s just the way they are.”