Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” Another way of saying this is “there are two sides to every story.” How many times have you experienced this proverb? You hear someone tell about some unjust situation (usually they are complaining about what someone did to them). Hearing their side of the story you instantly side with them, agreeing that they were unjustly treated and the perpetrator is a scoundrel. You side with the one you heard first.
But then later you hear the second party’s side of the story and you realize that they were justified in their actions, it wasn’t malicious or unjust, the other person just didn’t agree with the decision. Have you experienced this before?
Or perhaps you were the second party and you have experienced the wrath of a “disinterested third party” who believed the first party’s story and took up offense for them without ever coming to you to verify the facts of the situation.
We can all learn from this proverb by not jumping to conclusions with only half of the story. Successful leaders must learn this skill to maintain the respect of those they lead. If you become known as someone who believes the first thing you hear you will be a manipulated puppet of those you are supposed to be leading.
Likewise, if you are known as someone who believes the last thing you hear you will be seen as week and easily swayed. This person is like the character of Coach from the 1980s sitcom Cheers. Someone would say something to Coach and he would echo their sentiments as if they we concrete elements of truth. Then someone would rebut what the first person would say and Coach would agree with them and declare his new “fact” in complete contradiction to his first statement.
While this behavior makes for good comedy on TV, it is terrible for leadership in the workplace, in the church, or in the home. As a successful leader we must keep Proverbs 18:17 in mind, search out both sides of the story and weigh all the facts before we make a decision. Taking sides without knowing all the facts will kill a leader’s reputation and weaken your ability to lead effectively.
A good thing to remember in managing conflict between others is: If you are not part of the problem or part of the solution, stay out of it or you will add to the problem and hinder the solution.
Helping you live life abundantly,
Life Coach Ken