We find ourselves in a position of grouping people together and labeling—mask wearers, vaccinated, short people, obese people, smart people, the outsiders, etc. The list can go on for days because we often assume everyone is the same if they look a certain way or act a certain way. But this is not always true. Are all left-handed people mean or are all short people creative? The answer is no. We are all different. Although I’m left handed, I’m not exactly the same as the next left-handed person. Our handwriting is not even the same, much less our interests, thoughts, jobs, etc.
When we label people, we often miss their unique qualities. We overlook the nuances that God created us with. If we would make time to get to know the individual and not the label, we will find that all of us are different. And different is not bad. Different adds uniqueness and diversity to what would be a bland world if we all looked the same, thought the same, and acted the same. One of the things we can do, is get out of our comfort zones and get to know others. Not who we THINK they are, but ask them real questions and wait for real answers. Have coffee together. Introduce yourself to someone you wouldn’t normally spend time with. Listen to someone’s story. We all have them. Don’t judge. Just listen. Don’t do all the talking. Do some listening.When we group people together and create labels, we create stereotypes which are rarely true because of the uniqueness of the individual.
Next time you find yourself saying “all people from that place are such and such” or if you live at such and such a place, you are this way…”. Take a step back and ask yourself, “Are all people from there REALLY that way?” And how do you know that? Have you talked to everyone from there? If not, you can not make such a generalized statement or assumption. It’s time we recognize individuals for who they are and listen to their stories. We can learn a lot from getting to know people one person at a time.
~Coletta Jones Patterson
Coletta is an author, speaker, life coach and business executive who is passionate about helping others get unstuck. She hosts a weekly beyond stuck podcast and has written seven inspirational books. Connect with Coletta at firstname.lastname@example.org.