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Conversation Matters

Have you ever gone into a situation or discussion thinking you’re right? Although this is a common way of addressing events that require discussion, especially ones that need a resolution, entering a discussion with this mindset has the potential to create conflict. Thus, when going into a situation where a definitive answer is needed, consider using difference recognition.

What is difference recognition, then? Difference recognition is when one goes into a conversation with a mindset of curiosity and an attempt to understand the other person’s point of view.  As one pursues understanding that viewpoint, make sure to ask questions. It can be easy to assume what someone means when they say something. Thus, if you hear something and you have a negative or assuming reaction, consider asking what they meant by their statement. When that happens, you might hear a very different response than what you were initially expecting.

As the conversation is happening, make sure to invite the other participant to ask you questions about your view on the topic. When mutual question asking and clarifying happens, both parties can learn from the other and come up with a satisfactory solution that accounts for both experiences. Give it a chance. I have done this many times and have found it extremely valuable.


Lou Lim is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.

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