Can you think of a time when you just knew exactly what the other person in a conversation was going to say? No? Not even your mother when you phone after a long gap in contact? Or how they were going to react? No? Not even your partner when you want to go to visit that relative you know they don’t like? Or you want to negotiate some time to watch your favourite football team? Or your teenage daughter when you ask her to do her homework or tidy up her bedroom before you agree to her going to that party? My point is that there are situations where we have already written the script of how the situation is going to go. Another way of accessing examples which may be meaningful to you is to think about the times when you are tempted to say that someone ‘always’ or ‘never’ does something or ‘never’ understands you or ‘always’ takes things the wrong way. A typical example in a family law dispute is the money / contact dichotomy. The parent with whom the child lives most of the time wants & needs some money. The other parent wants to see the child. The lack of money on offer ends up with a meaning far above the money itself. It means that the other parent is not responsible. The other parent does not care. The other parent does not deserve a relationship with the child. The lack of contact ends up meaning that the relationship between parent and child is not acknowledged. (Even if they cannot find a job, and even if they did any money they paid over would simply come off the resident parent’s benefits so that no one would be better off). The other parent thinks that the resident parent wants to airbrush the other one out of the equation. They will only spend the money on things other than the children (when things other than the children need to be paid for to keep the show on the road such as the car and why should all one person’s money go on the children and not on something for themselves). They would not be in this position in the first place if they had kept to their marriage vows. I’m treated like an unpaid babysitter anyway and now they want me to pay for the privilege of seeing my child which is my right. The bad news is that this tendency to maintain that we are right and other people are wrong never entirely goes away. But with practice you can spot it happening before you open your mouth and react. You have a choice: you can be right or you can make a difference. If you say the same old things you’ll have the same old life. Try saying something different – and then – and this is key – listen to the answer you get rather than the one you predict you will get.