The Law of Opposites

Somewhere along the way, I was exposed to a wonderful public relations expression called the Law of Opposites.

Although less familiar to the general populace than laws such as the Third Law of Thermodynamics, or DUI, or DWI, it has a place in our toolbox.

This is the law that states: When you say something, it’s highly likely that people will believe the exact opposite is true.

Do you know who Richard Nixon is? If not, you may not be scarred by the period of discontent and cultural revolution that typified his tenure as President. But, he should have learned the law of opposites before he began public service. At one point in his fabled and rocky career, he said, “I am not a crook.” Well, in the Land of Opposites, this is interpreted by many citizens as, “I am a crook.” Eventually, he had to resign as President because of bad break-in artists and sloppy audio tape management.

Let’s put this law to another test. President Obama, addressing both chambers of Congress on the 9th day of the 9th month at 9 p.m. Central time, in 2009, (something seems strange here) basically stated that healthcare reform will not add one penny to the national debt.

Applying “The Law,” we hear: “Boy, this reform is going to cost me a bundle.”

It works not only in political life, but in – believe it or not – Hollywood. For example, when you hear an actor, who is paid $40 million for a bad movie, utter, “This isn’t about me, it’s about those behind the scenes, who made this happen,” you wonder…Well, then, why is he or she making $40 million per movie?

This works in your daily life, too. Examples include: “No, officer I didn’t know I was speeding,” or, “No, Hon, I haven’t been cheating on you,” or, “I don’t search the Internet for ‘that’ kind of stuff!”

So, as would-be practitioners of the art/science (choose one) of public relations, be careful what you have your client say to the masses. And, closing on yet another presidential note…if you say, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,”…well, okay you get the point.

4 thoughts on “The Law of Opposites

  1. Mr. Parham, (Jim)

    I really enjoyed the following article: The Law of Opposites. Thank you for your insight. It is (subject matter) something that I have pondered once of twice before but never seemed to bring validity to it in my mind. Your wording and follow up to your points really “bring it home” for me. I look forward to reading more of your publications.

    – Shannon Bryan

  2. I think the law of opposite only applies to the people who are lack of credibility. But, credibility is really hard to be established even you are president. So, actually, it seems all of the people in the world have no credit at all because we don’t believe in people we don’t know or even we know.
    This law will be overturned when we love all the people at the bottom of our heart, but I think this day wouldn’t come.

  3. Hey Jim,
    I loved this article. I was not familiar with the Law of Opposites but now that it has been brought to my attention it is very apparent. Thanks for this.

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