Thinking Beyond Polarities To Both/And Thinking

By Linda Fisher Thornton

In this video, Michael DePass of CCL gives a brief introduction to polarity thinking and how it affects our communication and relationships with others. 

Polarity Thinking Risks and Limitations

Thinking in an either/or way about a problem that has multiple sides/variables/perspectives limits our effectiveness. That kind of thinking:

  • Won’t help us solve complex problems
  • Can lead to “stuck” thinking and stalemate
  • Can lead to arguing and conflict
  • Compounds misunderstandings (potentially leading to irreconcilable differences)

Moving Beyond Polarities

To move beyond seeing just one pole/side of an issue, we need to learn to see the world a different way. We will need to:

  • See more than one perspective as important in understanding issues
  • See that more than one perspective can be “true” at the same time in the broader context
  • Understanding that polarities can be connected and interdependent

In a complex, connected global society it’s critically important to get past thinking in either/or terms. Use the resources below to learn how to see and move beyond polarities to get the bigger picture.

Links and Resources

Are You Facing a Problem ? Or a Polarity? CCL

Using Polarity Thinking to Achieve Sustainable Positive Outcomes, Laurie Levknecht, RN

Polarity Resource Portal, Polarity Partnerships

The Power of Polarity Thinking in Leadership, Margaret Seidler

Polarity thinking is about managing two poles that are both true and interdependent. When you’re ready to move to kaleidoscopic thinking, read the book 7 Lenses to learn how to see through 7 important perspectives that are all critically important for our collective future.

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About Linda Fisher Thornton
Linda Fisher Thornton is Founder and CEO of Leading in Context, and author of the award-winning book 7 Lenses. She teaches as Adjunct Assoc. Prof. for University of Richmond SPCS. She is leading a movement to help leaders and organizations Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership.

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