Integrated complexity is the ability to hold multiple perspectives at once, and it’s a wonderful trait for people to have. Some have it more naturally than others, but we can all work to do more.
It’s really the ability to see opposing viewpoints, and understand the “why” for both sides. You don’t have to agree with the other side, but understanding what drives their views is the best first step you can take.
It’s similar the immigration examples I shared last year, with this idea from Shankar Vedantam that shares what happens when someone is unable to see opposing viewpoints:
If you think there should be, for example, zero immigration to the United States, you can call anyone who has even mildly pro-immigrant views a traitor. On the other hand if you think there should be open borders to the United States, you can call anyone who calls for any immigration restrictions a racist.
Another example would be those friends of yours that are able to see both sides of the aisle politically.
The problem with all of those, as shared in that immigration post, is that people with strong abilities toward integrated complexity are often seen as disloyal by their peers. For many folks, the simple act of empathy and understanding the viewpoint of “those other people” is unfathomable.
I disagree. While changing your mind can be a good thing, your values should remain strong. By taking the time to understand both sides of an issue, you’ll be better equipped to defend your position and have stronger faith in why you believe what you believe. We saw this a few months ago with the gentleman that was firmly against Critical Race Theory, but he didn’t know why. I suspect part of it was a fear of feeling disloyal if he took the time to understand why someone might be in favor of it, so he buried his head in the sand instead.
Understanding the opposing viewpoint doesn’t mean being disloyal to what you believe, and will very likely help strengthen your own perspective.