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Labelling part 2


Labelling does not just refer to the many negative ones that we hear, for example, ‘fat’ or ‘stupid’ but also covers those that to some may be a compliment if not said in a derogatory manner.
For example, ‘academic’ (really meaning boring and uninteresting) or ‘business like’ (meaning showing no emotion and too logical).

Labels tend to feed prejudice and discrimination and the labels are nearly always a stereotypical view.

Labels tend to divide us into an ‘us and them’ mentality.

They have a habit of sticking, even those suggested by well meaning people, for example, parents.
A parent may well call a child ‘professor’ proudly referring to their intellectual ability.
This label may suggest purely academic attributes and a poor ability to do practical things, such as, repair plumbing.
The individual may be extremely adept at practical items like this but owing to everyone expecting him or her to just be ‘intelligent’ they may not receive any credit. This behaviour can harbour many frustrations again reducing motivation in these areas.

Assessing others

It is often a good idea to review how you look at others:

  • Do you see others as stereotypes?
  • Do you make judgements on others based upon past experiences of another?
  • Do you focus on the negative or positive aspects of the individual?
  • Are you easily influenced by the opinion of others?
  • Can you see things from the other person’s viewpoint or are you quick to judge?

To some degree everyone is influenced by other experiences and tend to judge people on first meeting.
Perhaps you may need to question those initial opinions?
By rushing into a judgement we narrow our view of events and people and affect motivation.

Self help

Make sure that communication is good

People will often speak to another rather than address the individual that they are ‘prejudiced’ against.
Examples of this can be found in those with disabilities where a particular disability seems to prevent them from being addressed directly as though the disability makes them hard of hearing or imbecilic.

In another example a builder may address remarks to the man of the house rather than the woman as it is assumed they lack the necessary understanding of practical matters. Women often feel they have to ‘prove’ themselves.

So from your own perspective make sure you communicate properly and encourage others to do the same.

Gain self esteem

One reason for labelling others is that by elimination we label ourselves as not being within that group.
If we call someone ‘stupid’ we are implying that we are not and therefore intelligent.
We do this to raise our own self esteem among others.

If we already have high self esteem there is no need to bother with the labelling of others.
Hence, by boosting your own self esteem you will reduce your own prejudices and improve motivation.

Take no action?

It is easy to see that if you take of course of ‘no action’ them those labelling you may stop.
This may not work as you will be waiting upon the actions of others.
You may need to be proactive here.

Jennifer L. Eberhardt

She received a PhD in Psychology from Harvard University in 1993 and her research focuses primarily upon racial stereotyping, prejudice, and stigma.
She suggested some strategies for avoiding stereotyping:

Focus on those characteristics that align you with the majority group.

Broadcast your values of fairness, honesty etc and reward those that display them.

Reinforce your own views of yourself so that people will come to believe them.

Avoid prejudiced people.

People will perceive attributes differently.
If you are less able at one skill it does not mean you are poor at all skills.