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Two Side of the same coin




“It’s two sides of the same coin!
So you’re saying we’re SAYING the same thing?
No, but essentially it is the same thing… well, we want the same thing at least… or maybe we’re just talking about the same thing…”

What the F#*@ is this coin?

You’ve heard someone trying to finalise an argument or debate with this point, right? It’s two sides of the same coin… so just agree with my side, ok?

Turns out, it’s not quite that straight forward.
According to the idiom dictionary, this phrase means

 “Two things… are closely related to each other and cannot be separated, even though they seem to be completely different.


Quite often, it seems that someone else’s beliefs/understanding/reasoning comes from a completely foreign place to our own.  It is easy to assume they are being obstructive, stupid or are just plain wrong.  It’s also easy to hear a different opinion and assume they actually want a different outcome - they must, right? If they wanted the same outcome as us, they’d agree with what we were saying. More than that, they’d decide our opinion is clearer, more reasonable, and overall just… better. Because it is.



Well, maybe … but most likely, that’s probably not an accurate interpretation. Not really.  I mean, it is to us, because our idea makes sense to us, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually the best option across the board. Hard to hear I know, but often true. The reality is that the person across from us only wants the best outcome possible as well - and if they seem to be saying something that is not in line with us, it’s most likely, again, that this is the way to get there that makes the most sense to them.  Neither is necessarily worse or better. Each achieves a different part of the same goal - the two sides of the same coin.


And it doesn’t have to even involve another human being with a different brain.  Let’s say, you want a job that improves your life.


For some, the first thing that pops into their head is a job that pays well and alleviates any financial stresses they’re currently experiencing. For others, it means having a job that they enjoy going to every day that is challenging, stimulating and opportunity-rich. Or something flexible around their timetable. Everyone has a different reason and a different method but they’re all aiming to achieve the same thing.  And generally, in something which has so many different perspectives and outcomes, whatever you choose, is going to have (at least) one other side to it – that maybe wasn’t what you chose, or is probably NOT what you wanted…
For example –
·         more money can mean less social time.
·         challenging and stimulating environments can end up in heavy responsibility and stress.
·         flexible schedules can lead to less regular income and uncertainty.
None of which are insurmountable, if the “coin” is worth it…

So, if we know that things usually come with different sides, which will often be opposite (like the 2 sides of a coin… woah, deep!) what can we do with that knowledge? The realisation that both parties might be working to achieve the same thing via different methods helps in so far as you’ve recognised it. But recognition does not equal trust, or understanding, or comfort. It definitely doesn’t mean everything is smooth sailing from here on out, and now we’ll all happily hold hands while we get what we want.


There are a million phrases that reword the idea that “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” (Arthur Ashe).

While usually, this would be a positive statement in the world of NayInTheLife, when it comes to the coin and it’s opposite hard flat sides, this can become the sticking point. Because even if we realise that we’re both talking about the same thing to some degree, our paths are so different, and the experience of each so personally important, that it can often not matter that we both will eventually get to the same treasure/door/other side of the hill.  In fact, it can become a matter of ego that actually, our perspective/path is the “easier/more intelligent/more meaningful” of the two to get wherever we are going.  And then the bar/finish line for the conflict/competition completely changes – before we were just proving that we could get somewhere, now we are trying to prove that ours is a triathlon, while yours is just a bushwalk, or vice versa, depending on what matters more. 


The key requirement to make the most of this coin we are standing on either side of is to start from a position that neither of us are wrong, we just don’t have the same plan.  And if you can manage it, and put on that holistic lens, you might realise that if you actually are on ONE side of the coin, then you can actually only SEE half a coin. Which could turn this argument into an opportunity to ask the other person to help you understand what it looks like on the other side.

In fact, with this logic, spending time only with people who are on the same side of the coin as you actually means that we’re missing a whole lot of the picture… re: Social media algorithm controlled feeds, google searches, advertising filters… but that is a whole other NayInTheLife! ;-)

The other useful thing to remember is that there are many coins in our currency – not just with different denominations, but also commemorative changes, with different Queen’s heads, crests, and flora and fauna on the same $1 metal disc.  Similarly, it isn’t that unusual to get halfway through an increasingly heated argument to try to get someone to jump onto your side of the coin, only to realise you’re on different coins – so the meaning or “value” behind each person’s argument could actually be very different.

In this case, the ability to say ‘Hold up, I think I’ve just realised we’re talking about two different things’ is good!  It can make us feel a lot more heard. Often, it comes with a fair bit of relief. And all of a sudden, we’re not being told we’ve been incorrect the whole time, we’ve just been misunderstood.

Of course, sometimes you’ll just have a different opinion about the one coin.  That’s absolutely fine, but it may happen less often than you think.  Most of the time, if we can recognise the “lucky” coin in the room, it could provide a gift - an opportunity to look at a bigger picture, approach something from a different perspective, and maybe even do it better than we might have by ourselves. 

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