Move beyond Labels in How You See People

Individual human beings are far too complex to understand after just a few conversations, or even after a few hundred conversations. Yet based off limited information, we have a tendency to label people. For instance, “Ron is the loudmouth Republican.” That may be vaguely accurate, but this framing could also be overshadowing many other important aspects of that person, positive and negative. Leadership coach Susan Cramm draws upon concepts from the book No One Understands You and What to Do About It to teach us how to push past labels and see people in a fuller light.

There Are No Stock Characters in Life

Cramm describes how labeling begins and also the process by which labeling begins to be undone. Taking assessments of people occurs in two phases. The first phase occurs instantly upon meeting a person and is essentially the “first impression.” This first impression will likely stick for times to come. The second phase then is a gradual, deliberate process of learning more about the person and maybe realizing that the first impression was not giving a fully accurate picture.

About working through this second phase, Cramm shares this:

Let go of the tendency to try to get insides the minds of others by filtering words and deeds through your personal values, motivators, and experience, or judging others based on their actions in the absence of understanding the wider context. Most people behave rationally given context and “most of what we do, most of the time, is what anyone would do under the same circumstances,” [No One Understands You author] Grant Halvorson writes. It’s fruitless to rely on others to tell us what we need to know because everyone overestimates how easily they can be understood. We also can’t assume that time resolves the disconnect.

She continues to offer a few more specific tips on how you can arrive at accurate judgements of people faster:

  • Approach new people from a place of trust, to encourage them to reciprocate.
  • When you have strong positive or negative feelings toward someone, try to engage that person more often to confirm if those feelings are correct.
  • With people who work for you, try to see them as who you know they can become. Think about their fullest potential and the ways you might be able to draw it out of them.

For further thoughts, you can view the original article here:

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