Paired Opposites are an Expression of Duality

Wizard of Ads Monday Morning Memo

21-05-2018 • 4 mins

A thing cannot exist without its opposite. This is why a positive statement – without its corresponding negative – is usually a platitude.1

Every proton has its electron.

Every summer has its winter.

Every Yin has its Yang.

Every up, its down.

Every inside, its outside.

Every justice, its mercy.

“The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement.

But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”

– Niels Bohr

Niels Bohr was not a philosopher. He was a scientist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Duality, in the form of paired opposites, is essential to high-impact communication.

It is not enough to explain what you believe.

You need also to explain what you don’t believe.

It is not enough to explain what you stand for.

You need also to explain what you stand against.

I saw you flinch just then. You don’t like “being negative.” Am I right?

You believe in abundance.

You believe in optimism.

You believe in fairness and peace.

You sound like a Hallmark greeting card.

Now tell me if I’m being “negative.”

I stand against poverty.

I stand against hopelessness.

I stand against bullies.

I sound like someone who might actually make a difference.

Don’t just tell us what you include.

Tell us also what you exclude.

Don’t just tell us what you are.

Tell us what you are not.

“At Kesslers, we do diamonds better, because diamonds are all we do. We don’t sell watches or pearls or gold chains. But we do sell every style of engagement ring that has ever been designed.”

“At Goettl Air Conditioning, we do things the right way, not the easy way.”

“Jigsaw magnesium is a mineral, not a vitamin. And it delivers real energy, not caffeine energy.”

Here’s why photos of you never really look like you:

You see your face in the mirror every day. You see photos of yourself only occasionally. But the mirror shows you a reversed image. The “you” that your friends see is opposite the image that you see.

If you speak only of what you see from your perspective, you miscommunicate to everyone who sees the opposite.

Comprehensive communication always shows both sides:

The verse and the inverse.

The upside and the down.

What’s left in and what’s left out.

Do you have the breadth of mind to do this?

Do you have the courage?

Roy H. Williams

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