Stories: When not all facts are known to all involved

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

Different perspectives to a situation are great and can help us solve problems and find creative solutions. But as stories (interactions) unfold in real life not knowing all facts can lead to interesting exchanges and miscommunications.

Let’s take the situation that happened on a flight I was taking out west. I was traveling with another person, but we bordered the plane at separate times. I got to what I thought were our seats first, just to be greeted by two people sitting in them. I asked them if they were in such and such row? I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something. They said they were in the row I was looking for.

The plane had three seats per row. One seat by itself. Two next to each other. They sat in the two together. The single in that row was open.

One of them was in my seat. The other, I assumed, in the seat of the person I was traveling with. We started talking about which seat belonged to whom, when a guy in the back gave me the friendly suggestion that I could just sit in the single.

That’s definitely a possibility, but what if that’s somebody else’s seat and where is my fellow traveler going to sit? I kept investigating …I hope in a friendly manner, while understanding that a 6’4″, 216-pounder standing over somebody sitting down can seem intimidating, even if he’s smiling.

By now, one of the people had gotten out her boarding pass, which said she was supposed to be in the single. Hmmm. Interesting, but at least I now knew that nobody else was supposed to sit there.

I offered to take the single and wondered where my fellow traveler would sit.

No word on if the guy in the back who suggested this to begin with was happy that he knew the solution all along.

A few minutes later, my fellow traveler walked in and passed me and found his assigned seat in the back.

The lesson from the story: Sometimes we don’t know all the facts. Sometimes we may not even be able to uncover them all. The key perhaps – especially when we are trying to share stories from these interactions – is to keep an open mind, stay calm and ask questions.

It might also be helpful to thankfully acknowledge suggestions from others, even if we think they don’t understand the whole picture. Who knows, it might be us who is missing pieces to the puzzle.