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Labeling People

By on Apr 23, 2012

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It’s difficult to give resolute definition when most things are in a constant state of transition, and we rarely understand the things we’ve already defined as well as we think we do. Despite this innate difficulty associated with accurate defining, most of us are well rehearsed at placing specific mental tags, especially upon people. Personal pride is, as is often times the case, the culprit. For labeling a person on first glance takes a good deal of subtle arrogance, and so, to refuse to label and thus ignore our pride, is an extremely challenging practice most try to avoid. The point we commonly ignore is that as new intricacies are revealed, we who label must now admit we were wrong and reexamine the accuracy of what we thought was true. This is a painful reality, but, despite the pain, we scarcely commit terrific effort to garnering enough courage to cease our labeling ways and avoid killing our capacity to relate.

The process of labeling people stems from our love of categories, of streamlining every day processes, even our relationships. And not that all categorizing is bad, but, when it comes to people, our perceptions are inadequate at best. We see categorizing others and their ideas as an efficient way to align ourselves with those we want or need to align ourselves with and to discourage alignment with the rest. These alignments are almost always based upon our initial reactions to shallow, interpersonal interpretations or physical data collected on the whim. In truth, most of us are lazy when it comes to understanding people, even those we seemingly care about the most.

The practice of labeling is based not just upon our love of categories but upon our reflex to assume, as well. And, as we all know, assumptions directly limit the potential of those we label by stymieing the interactions and relationships we have with them. To make assumptions about another is to essentially wall them in to certain groups, which, once categorically cemented, are nearly impossible to break free of. Cultures, businesses, organizations and families mature and profit when labeling is done away with and everyone is openly accepted, listened to, and held accountable, when assumptive based decisions are no longer the status-quo. The surface indicators we use most often to define others are usually the most tempting, as well as the quickest to manipulate and manufacture. However, easily discoverable, easily adjustable, personality patterns fall short of revealing truth. In reality, it takes hard work to break through the barriers these indicators put up, as well as a lot of practice, communication, and time well spent learning the genuine character of the person we hope to befriend, hire or simply get to know.

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