Law of Opposites

The Law of Opposite Behavior suggests that no matter what behavior a person acts out, the opposite behavior or mirror image also exists at some level, residing inside the person.


Someone who is always smiling and pleasant on the outside, even when this would be considered inappropriate or over done given the circumstances. The Law of Opposite Behavior suggests that an equally heightened feeling of sadness reside inside this person.

A powerful rage expressed on the outside, suggests a corollary of sweetness that can be tapped on the inside.

A person seen as rude and contemptuous on the outside, suggests a corollary of ready tenderness inside if we employ the right approach.

The boss is using ultimate statements that seem like traps or positions that cannot be reasonably achieved. This suggests that he is either nervous or unclear about what to do or how to how to do it.

Tool: When we are in a conversation with someone who is setting off our hardwiring (i.e. smiling too much, expressing rage, or being rude), we have a choice. Rather than reacting to their behavior, we can use the Law of Opposites to advantage: By using Core Intentional language and acting out a behavior, that is the opposite of our current reactive behavior, we can move the conversation towards a positive and productive outcome.

“You seem OK (smiling), but my sense is that your actually quite upset about the loss of the project responsibility. Is that true?”

“I can see you are upset (raging), but I know you are more than competent in sweet-talking John into approving your budget Tell me what didn’t work and we will work on a solution together.”

“I hear your concern (contemptuousness ). However, I know you as a person who underneath really cares that the job is done well. Let’s think of some optional ways to get management to see your point of view.” 

 “You have used the word ALWAYS. Do you really mean ALWAYS or are you being extreme because of your frustration and lowered trust that they will be able to complete the project on time and under budget?” 

 Remember: What you are doing in the above examples is speaking to the two parts(behavior & Core Intentions) of a person at the same time. Solution: Verbalize the other person’s aggressive behavior that pushed your buttons and then speak to their Core Intentions!

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© Scott Taylor 2020