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Simplifying Complexity

Posted on 2012.08.31 at 00:00
Current Location: 67114
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If you want to truly understand something, try to change it.
~Kurt Lewin

There are many complex things I can pare down to simple patterns of behavior. I can also just as easily over-complicate what should be an entirely benign matter. Why the difference? For me, is the nuanced eddies which dance around any given subject - some are cacophonous and erratic, others appear as single melodies in a greater orchestration - order in chaos versus the sheer terror of its abjectness. But that doesn't really tell the whole story, does it? While I can see the individual notes to be plucked from a symphony, I cannot hear the colors of the wind. I admit to occasionally over-complicating simple matters to those who will readily agree, yet disavow they ever over-simplify complex things. Such stark dichotomy never ceases to amaze me.

I applaud Occam and his deft razor, but argue the over-simplification of his theorem that the simplest answer is likely the true one, rather than truth is more likely to be found from that which makes the fewest assumptions - which is obviously self-defeating in the given scenario - for it adds complexity to an otherwise common, if slightly misunderstood, principle of simplicity. Yet simplicity is a complex undertaking. You cannot reach simplicity without understanding the complexity and subtleties of your topic. Which is all I'm ever trying to ferret out. My goal is never to over-complicate nor over-simplify, rather to reach mutual understanding. And this my friends, is rarely easy.

In Difficult Conversations: Nine Common Mistakes, based on Holly Weeks Failure to Communicate, the first trap we (yes, I included) fall into is a combative mentality - demarcating a clear "winner" or "loser" which is the opposite of mutual understanding. Honestly, I don't care if you agree with me or not, but I would appreciate the courtesy of you understanding my point of view as I endeavor to understand yours.

As an aside, if you are unable to articulate your point of view, its not my understanding, nor respect which is at fault here.

What I have found most fascinating is not the troublesome differences in communicative styles or variations of definitions or even discordant terminology which is at fault - all of those things can be overcome with what does seem to be the culprit: A willingness and eagerness to understand. It is that above all else which appears to be the roadblock in mutual communication.

As I've stated, I don't care if you agree with me or not, but there are those out there who do. They liken a counter viewpoint as a personal attack on their character. People, I know you think this sounds far too far-fetched to be true, but I have come across it time and again. One of the most difficult aspects of this particularly disturbing psychology is its hidden nature - either they are not aware of it, or don't understand why its a fallacy. My disagreement isn't an inharmonious quest for discontent, its a desire to be understood, and in turn, understand.

There is always a reason behind not wanting mutual understanding, whatever it may be. Perhaps its just an over-simplified solution to a complex challenge.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent.
It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
~Charles Darwin

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