Let's Go to the Videotape! Verifying Someone's Story

If you are following the news, you have probably heard that NBC is fact-checking Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News regarding his telling, differently, a story when he was embedded. This post from Alan Bean, someone I trust when it comes to ethics and justice, though our religious beliefs differ, provides enlightenment about something referred to as "false memory."

This is shared not to debate what Mr. Williams and others may have done. It is provided for the "false memory" references from Mr. Bean. It was brought to mind because of the many interviews I have conducted for clients with those they are considering for positions in their meetings departments and the stories I've heard that just didn't ring true or entirely check out.

Sometimes it's one's role in saving millions of dollars on a meeting, or developing systems to enhance meeting operations, or negotiating "more than anyone else," that caused me to question how much that person could have really done. When probed, one can learn that yes, the person had a role; however, the candidate was not the initiator nor more than someone with a bit of input. 

It probably happens long before the interivew too, right? The resume with enhancements that would not pass a deeper check; the vitae that exalts one's experiences and is never verified. So many shortcuts lead to hiring people or putting them on boards, etc., without delving deeper because we want to believe and they believe, with their "false memory," that they are telling the truth.

In the situations Alan Bean cites, there are videotapes to review. And unless one's life has been duly recorded (a la Defending Your Life) there is no way to know.

The percentage of those calling for Mr. Williams to be fired is remarkably high. What do you do, in hiring someone or checking the veracity of a supplier who tells you how fabulous their service is (even with examples that to that person are true), to verify?

And what do you do if you find out, later, after hiring or contracting someone that it just isn't as they said... that in fact, 'false memory' may have been at work? Or if that person is a CMP, bound by the CMP Standards of Ethical Conduct? Or if you feel a need to enhance what you've done—do you stop to think about what you really did? Do we really need to be bigger-better-best all the time? Or can we be real?

If it matters...especially after reading what Alan Bean said and some of the information provided in the links, I still trust Brian Williams.

Posted by Joan L. Eisenstodt

Follow Joan on Twitter: @joaneisenstodt

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