Difficult conversations: What if you can’t agree on the facts?

I listened to Jody’s training on difficult conversations — loved the deeper dive into this topic. A great refresher after the podcast you’d done on the topic.

Jody mentioned leading with the facts, e.g. “You were late for 3 of the 5 last meetings” if having a conversation about an employee’s level of professionalism. I understand this is to keep things neutral so we don’t get into judgment territory, and both parties have a common basis of discussion.

My question is this: What if the other person doesn’t agree on the facts we present? In this example, the employee might say, “That’s not true, I was only late for one meeting, and it’s the morning my car broke down.”

What might be a productive course of action to take then? Insist on the facts as we see them? Bring up more and see if they dispute/argue against those as well?

This has sometimes happened between my husband and me — not so much now with all the self-coaching I’ve been doing — the difficult conversations have become less necessary — but we often don’t remember conversations and events the same way.

I think some of the time it’s a genuine difference in perception, and other times it has seemed to me like he might be — consciously or unconsciously — choosing whatever version of reality is helpful for the point he’s trying to make.

Is this a “you can be right or you can be happy” kind of situation? Or is the work to coach myself on this thought I have that my husband is sometimes not 100% in good faith?

Here’s what I come with:

C: Husband and I are having a “difficult” conversation
T: He’s just skewing reality to make his point
F: Outraged, powerless, alone
A: Try to get him to admit that’s not what happened, accuse him of skewing reality
R: I’m skewing his recollection/the conversation to make my point

C: Husband and I are having a “difficult” conversation
T: I’m open to believing his memory doesn’t work the same way mine does
F: Curious, deliberately trusting
A: Acknowledge that we seem to remember things differently. Clarify what’s a problem for me, clarify his view of the situation.
R: We work together open-mindedly to find a way forward.

Hey, did I just self-coach myself out of my question? 😀