April 17, 2022
Welcome to Disagree Better, a twice-monthly email designed to help you collaborate and negotiate in ways that keep vital relationships resilient and important decisions sound in business and life.
Conflict is a story. It’s a story we tell ourselves about what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. It’s a story we repeat: We think about it in the shower. We talk about it with a best friend. We ponder it on our lunchtime run. It’s understandable that we do this, but we create a problem for ourselves in the process.
When we repeat our conflict story, we increase our perception of how true it is. This is called the truth-by-repetition (TBR) effect — repetition causes our minds to begin seeing our conflict story as The Truth About What Happened. But of course it isn’t. It’s just what we’ve been practicing:
Past research has suggested that the TBR effect is limited to statements which could conceivably be true. But new research has found that even highly implausible claims seem more truthful with repetition — and it takes a surprisingly low number of repetitions to affect the perceived truth:
Take care of each other,