by on December 14, 2016


Fotolia_12376781_XS 300x200As I was growing up, it was not uncommon to hear people “labelled” by their nationalities. There were numerous stereotypes that would imply that a person of a certain heritage or background, or of a particular religion, would be expected to exhibit distinctive traits that would immediately allow you to identify how they may think. Even comedians in their acts would openly joke about this, and it was often very commonly accepted as the way things were.

As my life moved forward, it began to become less and less accepted to “label” individuals in such a way. More and more is was considered demeaning, lacking understanding, being “politically incorrect” to do so. And, while acceptance to new ways of expressing one’s self came easier to some people than others, awareness began to develop on a more wide spread basis to being sensitive to the feelings of others. Yes, sometimes one person could offend another, whether through ingrained older habits, or just not staying aware of what they were saying and how they portrayed another. However, those who may have offended others were quicker to apologize or rectify how they had presented themselves.

I guess all of this has been playing on my mind because while we may have lessened or in some cases eliminated certain “labels” from our society, I’m troubled that we may have just replaced them with others. Additionally, in a lot smaller global world where we are all now connected through tools such as the internet and social media, we have actually created platforms where individuals “hide behind their labelling”. Just yesterday I read an article in my local newspaper where 2 individuals were profiting by “making up and embellishing” headlines that had nothing to do with what they were writing, so as to both incite individuals and generate income by getting more internet traffic to certain “for profit” sites. I finished the article dumbfounded that such practices exist.

As a coach I have the fortune to work with a lot of different individuals. I know that all of them don’t think exactly like me or share the same lifestyle that I do. However, I am glad to have them as clients, as friends, as people who come into my life that I can refer to others that need their services, etc. When we strip the differences aside, we often come to a lot of items that we have in common. For some that I meet it is assimilating into a part of the United States which may be new to them, but where I have lived my entire life. In other cases it is sharing the knowledge I have gained about the job search process to assist them with their own search in terms of employment or activity that they enjoy. Along the way, they may introduce me to types of work they do or services performed for others that I never knew existed.

I do know one thing. If I was obsessed about “labelling” and categorizing everyone that I met, my life would not be as enriched today as it is. I am charged up to see what I may learn today or whom I may meet. Additionally I have confidence in myself that I’m not going to be drawn into or made to do things that are not right for me. And, most of all, I expect others to respect me for that. If I am open to understanding why they believe the way they do, or why a certain approach is important to them, then my expectation of that type of respect in return is not unrealistic to me.

We all tend to “label” what happens around us. Even I know I’m prone to doing so. However, if I’m also prone to being aware that the “labels” inhibit me, as opposed to help me grow, I’m able to see more viewpoints than just my own. Consider being open to such an approach in your life.

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