Dialectics, the magic of multiple correctness!

More than one answer

On the page here we have an image of two people with a number between them. The person on the left says that they see a six and the person on the right says that they see a nine. Who is correct?

Both. This is the concept of dialectics. This is also the idea behind the “D” of DBT.

Dialectics means that there is not just one right answer. At times we want to think that there is only one answer – and generally, we want to think that it is our answer.

There are always other ways of looking at things, and that does not mean that it is necessarily right or wrong, just a different way. When it comes to viewing and describing things it is important to remember that others will not always see things the same way that you do, and that is ok, as you will not always see thing the same as others. It will always be your choice as to what you do with that new information and it will be an opportunity to learn to view things differently.

“And” versus “But”

Since dialectics means that there is always more than one way to see something, we use “and” instead of “but” in statements.

“BUT” excludes, denies & negates stated before it: I had a great time BUT I am really tired.
“AND” gives equal consideration to both parts of the statement: I had a great time AND I am really tired.

“AND” is validating and powerful.
Read these statements and note how each makes you feel:

  • Change can be scary BUT you can do it.
  • Change can be scary AND you can do it.


One last piece of dialectics is moving away from absolutes such as “always,” or “never.” Statements such as, “I never get a chance to….” or “They always treat me unfair…” can be rephrased to, “There are times when I do not get a chance to and other times….” and “Sometimes I am treated unfair and other times….” See how the absolutes are removed, and the same point is still made?

Dancing in the Round

This piece was written using theater types to explain the idea of dialectics.