I'm not really all that mysterious

Non-Complementary Behavior

On the way to Santa Barbara, ミA彡 and I listened to an episode of Invisibilia about non-complementary behavior.

The idea is that the usual way we interact with each other is complementarity: if you are nice and friendly, then I am apt to be nice and friendly to you, but if you are angry and belligerent, then I am likely to be angry and belligerent in return.

Practicing non-complementarity is trying to break out of this pattern.

Psychology has a golden rule: If I am warm, you are usually warm. If I am hostile, you are too. But what happens if you flip the script and meet hostility with warmth? It’s called “non-complimentary behavior” - a mouthful, but a powerful concept, and very hard to execute. Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin examine three attempts to pull it off: during a robbery, a terrorism crisis and a dating dry spell.

Flip The Script • 2016 Jul 17 • Invisibilia

Non-complementarity is a powerful tactic that can help change behavior. It’s probably no accident that it is a prominent tenet of many major religions.

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Luke 6:27-31 NRSV

It’s also probably no accident that it features prominently in successful social change.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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