“He is just one of those people…always complaining and never grateful!!!!” said the angry voice.
I was a on training heading into the City Centre and there was a phone conversation taking place a couple of rows behind me. I didn’t know the girl but I couldn’t help but think to myself that whoever she was talking about was now condemned to being treated as “always complaining and never grateful”.
In our interactions with people we make snap judgements all the time. We decide within seconds what other person is like and we put them in a category along with other people we have labelled the same. (You are probably making some judgement about me right now)
It’s not wrong or right. It’s a natural human thing to do.
What can become a problem though is when that initial judgement becomes a filter through which you observe that person. That judgement can become label that presupposes what that person is going to be like before you’ve even started any conversations. It’s like an post-it note you’ve placed on their heads.
As leaders (yes that’s right you are a leader!) it’s our job to connect with people not just communicate. In order to connect with people fully we must be able to catch ourselves when we are in ‘label’ mode, otherwise we will never truly be able to make that all important connection.
Earlier this week Channel 4 aired a programme called “Make Leicester British” which was a kind of social experiment where people from diverse backgrounds were put together under one roof. The group included immigrants and asylum seekers, as well as past economic migrants and some from the indigenous population.
There were number of labels which came to the surface and got in the way of people really connecting. ( If you in the UK and would like to watch it here)
Most interesting for me though, was how the programme highlighted the number of labels held against the asylum seekers and immigrants in particular.
Sweeping statements were made about what kind of people they were and how they had ‘all’ come over to Britain for benefits or to “milk” the system.
Now it might be true of some, but all? If we judge all by the actions of a few, how does that bring people together?
I’m reminded of a quote by Mahatma Gandhi :
“Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
I’ve got some further thoughts on this concept which you see in the video below.
I’d love you hear your comments, experiences and even challenges. Please comment below!