What "labels" do you have? And how to do you label others...?
Have you ever introduced yourself like this: “Hi I am <insert your name> and I am <insert your profession, career, job etc.>?” And then the new stranger has given you “the look” & you just know probably not going to be best buddies & you’ve slid to the bottom of the respectable ladder JUST in that first sentence? 
Or let’s flip it, have you ever had that thought about somebody else as they’ve introduced themselves to you?

Sometimes we forget just because someone has a label, whether it be a profession, diagnosis, characteristic, attribute etc., it doesn’t mean they fit into your perception of that label.

You see we are very quick to put people into a box when we hear what they are. We do this for two reasons:
 Firstly because we may have had experience with other people who have claimed to have the same characteristic or profession or label and our memories of that relationship now cloud or change our view of the word itself.

The other reason we do it is because we want to kind of build a base/foundation very quickly of what we can expect from the next part of the conversation/relationship. We start preparing what this new person may be interested in talking about or how this person will think, so we start actually building the relationship from the perception we have of other people that also have this label. It’s kind of a time-saving thing in our mind however it’s not always beneficial and actually it can be quite detrimental. 

It’s part of our defence mechanism in a sense. If we’ve been hurt or had a positive experience with someone with the same label; we either put our guard down & take off our helmet, or pull on ALL the armour, sword in hand. Maybe you can relate? 

What is important to realize is that we rarely start a new relationship off with a clean slate. Our perceptions in some form or another, are already! It may be as simple as the person is wearing the same type of sunnies that an ex-colleague used to wear… or they have kids… or they have been to the same college as you. 
When we’re dealing with people and have no preconceived perceptions, we come at it from a place of curiosity: Who/what is this new thing? What can I learn about it or them? Does is this something that I am wanting to incorporate into my life? So we come at it from a point of curiosity which naturally is more positive than if we have a preconceived negative opinion.

You may even have names of people that as soon as someone introduces themselves with that same name you’re brain fires off a million memories & you may even physically react (eyes roll, stomach turns over). Immediately it’s like the person has to dig them self out of a hole before they’ve even said a second word!
Obviously the opposite can happen to you and you may have an amazing memory about a particular profession or a particular name or characteristic and just because that person has the same feature then they automatically step up a notch; just for holding that attribute.
 
The reason to remember this, especially when you’re dealing with new clients and colleagues, is that these people are brand new they don’t have any previous relationship with you. You need to be aware of any pre-creek conceived opinions you have about these people; because it’s not actually them. It can be detrimental, very detrimental in some cases, to the relationship going forward. 

I want you to finish the sentence out loud:

When I think about a <insert a profession> then I automatically think <insert exact image or thought that comes to mind when you say that profession>.

No filters; there’s no one asking you to justify this thought or saying it’s right or wrong. Right now it just is. 

(I just want to note I am refraining so hard from not giving you an example; because that example will come with my preconceived opinions about that profession and I do don’t want my preconceived notion to cloud what you’re thinking about. Make sense?)

And how would that influence a conversation, if you randomly met someone with that label lining up for coffee? Would you rather not talk to them? Would you be MORE engaged with them? Would you smile and take a step back? 

This is not to say that all of these people in that profession don’t have this specific attribute; but it also doesn’t mean that ALL of the people in that profession have this attribute. It’s not an absolute.
Maybe you’re thinking, “But seriously, all xxx are like that!” Are you sure? Is that just your brain telling you that, so that you can easily categorise them? 

Again, this is not to point the finger at you; we all do it. It’s more to help you recognise the behaviour, so you realise that it’s there. If you identify that; then you can choose to do something about it. Or not; it’s your choice. 

What I’m basically trying to say is that when you meet need people; new clients, friends, random associates and acquaintances make sure you give them a fair go & let them be the first one to write on the slate.  Come at new relationships with curiosity & positivity, rather than preconceive negative opinions about the labels they may carry.

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