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All or nothing


The lost art of negotiation and compromise



All or nothing thinking, also known as "black and white" or even more sophisticated identified as "dichotomous thinking" is the manner in which we tend to view the world. It leaves no chance of seeing the other's point of view or even acknowledge that someone may have a different perception and understanding. What is dichotomous thinking?

Dichotomous Thinking is a cognitive distortion, an automatic irrational thought, and it is characterized by focusing on the extremes and excluding everything that is in-between.

So, something is either good or bad, or incompetent or great.... there is no grey, no thinking outside the box... and the real world, with all its nuances and diversity, does not support this type of thinking. Yet, we cannot seem to get away from it. We are polarized and stuck onto extremes of thought. This works even within us, not able to see any shades of gray as we move through our journeys, becoming either tyrants or narcissists in our own right: not allowing for simple mistakes or proclaiming some undeserved superiority or inherent righteousness.


This type of thinking does not allow for the curse and gift of our human condition. (X)


The big problem now is that we are all so far apart, so dogmatic in our thoughts and principles that negotiation and compromise are an impossibility. We just shake our heads and say "no" before we hear an argument. There is no discussion or openness to possibilities. What are we afraid of? Why are we so opposed to listening to an alternate point of view or reasoning?

Here are some questions to help you change this way of thinking. These can be applied to yourself only or when interacting or wanting to interact with someone else in some meaningful conversation:


  • Is there evidence that supports my thoughts and/or beliefs?

  • Am I considering all angles or am I leaving things out? (This is very important to consider if you consume social or mainstream media)

  • Could my assumption be challenged by someone else? How? What would their arguments be?

  • Does everyone else see it this way, my way? Why do you think there are people who view the issue in a different manner?

  • Am I being fair to others in making this opinion?

There are always pros and cons to any argument or course of action. In the real world, there is no one perfect way of doing things, no perfect way of going about our lives. Nevertheless, we let the media and politicians dictate how we think and how we ostracize others who disagree with us. It is easier to just leave the thinking to others, but by doing that we are passing up dialogue, connection, reasoning. All those are integral components of what it means to be an individual.


There is always room for improvement and learning, and you are in charge of effecting change in your life and those around you.


The arts of negotiation and compromise can bring about a more complete picture before making assumptions or decisions. Even if you just agree to disagree, chances are you end up with a different and perhaps more accurate appreciation of your fellow human. Z Form is here to support a well-informed line of thought by providing guidance in how to approach a difficult conversation. What do you have to lose? A new perspective? A new friend?


Don't get nullified by politics and the media. Reach out to others in a genuine attempt to connect.

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