Why do opposites attract… and help each other grow?

by Mónica De Salazar

There is a lot of sayings and ideas on how opposites attract, things like “your perfect match”, “you compliment each other”, and so on. It doesn’t only happen in terms of romantic relationships, it also happens between friends, coworkers and pretty much with all sorts of persons.

This can be explained with the concept of Polarity Management (there’s a book by Barry Johnson), which explains how it works and how to deal in a positive way with this.

It kinda looks like this image. Lets say the two sides (left /right( are two persons or two kinds of persons. They both have a peak (positive results) and a low point (negative results), but at the same time both are cross related and what’s more… they are interdependent.

What does this mean? The downsides of one side are the launching spot for the other one to go further, and viceversa.

The main problem is that in the middle line (let’s imagine an horizontal line dividing the top and bottom parts) that’s the point where we should shift to what the other person (or kind of person) is good at… but usually we don’t.

Attention here: What we worry most about people who are opposite to us is the bottom part of them, meaning the negative results zone. And they worry about the same from us.

But it’s normal, we worry about what we do not know if we can handle. We worry about the dark sides and maybe not being able to respond to them or work things out. Then what can we do? Well, the answer is simple… to give in to it, maybe not as much. We all need to be mindful and self-conscious that when we start to cyclize in a same thought, action, attitude maybe it’s time for the other one to take over the situation and handle it in a different way.

To be able to manage polarities is not just a way to have more harmony among diverse persons and groups, but it also becomes a way to integrate them and make the most of their personality traits and points of view. Eventually, when this integration is successful (it takes time, don’t rush into it) the relationship becomes stronger, more collaborative, people enrich each other and what’s more… diversity leads to innovation more than any other configuration. It becomes some kind of high performance relay race team.

This map shows in a quite clear way how breathing works as a system where polarities are managed the whole time as a cycling process.

When managing polarity it is important to identify the treats, points and everything that is in the up sides of both (or more parts), this way these characteristics can be enhanced, stimulated, built, and more desirable for all parts. This way when there is consciousness of this, all will be more prone to help others (and themselves) by pushing only for the up sides, and relay when the performance or good results start to nosedive. Everyone becomes more collaborative.

Today, challenges (I don’t like to say “problems”) become more and more complex what makes them be less prone to have a single right answer. We have grown in a society where 90% of problems have just one right answer and this is the reason why we are conditioned to always try to respond the first and with the right answer. Therefore, we lose a 3D point of view and make more mistakes in this new complexity of challenges. With Polarity Management we have the opportunity to see challenges from different perspectives, diverge in possible solutions development, prototype solutions, find more sofisticated and tailor-made options… and of course, disrupt + innovate.

What do you think? Shall we try to find diversity and figure out how to manage polarities.