The Delicate Art of Dialectical Management

I am a big believer in the principle of dialectics: competing interests confronting one another with the hope of a possible synergy that is not visualized by either side. The venerable yin yang is the perfect symbol of this dialectic. What people too often miss is the orb that surrounds the entirety of the yin yang, that is the dialectic.

The circle implies unity superseding the dialectic, reinforced by the dot of one portion of the dialectic existing in the competing one. In long term care, for example, there are infinite amounts of dialectics, one example being quality of care versus quality of life. This was the guiding dialectic of the Sunshine Project, which was embarked by Piñon Management in 1984 and established the first psycho/social model of operation in Colorado for a very troubled nursing home.

What are the ingredients for successfully managing a dialectic? The first thing is to pay homage to the circle or, in the nursing home example, what are we here for? The primacy is the well-being, empowerment, and growth of the people who live and work there. When that is realized, the process of attaining a therapeutic community, or synergistic environment, is bolstered as institutional ways whither. The key, obviously, is having conflict resolution skills. There are no winners or losers, no self-righteousness or vanquished, merely the organic movement of self-awareness.

When I read of and observe the divisiveness of this country’s landscape, it becomes quite evident that dialectical management is completely vacant. It’s as if the circle has been eviscerated. Here there are winners and losers and the means (destructive much of the time) are justified by the ends. Name calling and demonizing are perfectly acceptable as each side shouts over the other in self-righteous indignation.

The yin yang dialectic is distinguished by the idea that the means need to be as worthy and lofty as the ends. Passionate debate is always tempered by remembering the noble goals of unifying principles and meditating on that. After all isn’t that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

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