Don’t Stereotype… Use Your Baby Eyes

Photo cred: Sean Dreilinger
Photo cred: Sean Dreilinger

Assumptions can be dangerous, unreliable and unfair.  The problem is, they’re inevitable.  People are judgmental, and they form stereotypes in order to satisfy their natural need to classify and organize.  The minute people meet each other, they are analyzing who the other person is and how to classify them.

A baby doesn’t make assumptions.  It sees everything for the first time; everything is new.  That shouldn’t change. Everyone is different, and should be approached as something new.

Age, sex, race, size, culture, personality, style….everything about us carries a stereotype.

Stereotypes are usually based on some truth.  They don’t develop out of thin air.  They’re developed based on experience.  If someone has a number of experiences with a certain “type” of person, they assume that the same experience will occur with others of that “type”.

Still think Millenials are great with social media?  Or maybe you think they’re entitled and lazy. The only thing that you can say is 100% true about a millennial is their age.  Same goes for Gen X, boomers and on… Anything you assume as a result of that age is based on stereotypes.  Whether it’s a positive stereotype, or a negative stereotype, it is still dangerous, unreliable, and unfair.

Use your baby eyes, like you’re seeing everyone you meet for the first time (I know…ridiculous).  You’ll be surprised how much more you can learn and accomplish with people when you eliminate assumptions.  Thinking about stereotypes may be inevitable, but if you recognize that it exists, it is unfounded, and focus on the specific person as an individual, you can overcome them.

13 thoughts on “Don’t Stereotype… Use Your Baby Eyes

  1. I love this. Everyone (including myself) is guilty of stereotyping but it’s important to take a step back and realize that stereotypes are not truths – they are products of society.

    Try to look at everyone as the exception to the rule.

    Let yourself be surprised by the unique gifts that people can bring to the table.

    After all, we all know what happens when you assume… 🙂

    @goktgo

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Tom. The PRSA Millenial post definitely inspired this. It’s easy to generalize. It’s hard to look at everything in a new light. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it isn’t right.

      Doesn’t matter what Generation anyone is a part of. It really doesn’t.

  2. The only thing that you can say is 100% true about a millennial is their age. I like that. I’m frustrated by a lot of people who have set views based on negative information fed to them about gen y and millennials. They just don’t add up to the face value factor you are talking about. We’re all different. We’re all are products of unique environments. We’re all of a certain age. Its about time someone reinforced the reality that stereotypes are a currency that’s not so constructive to innovation, especially when it comes to business.

    1. Thanks for the comment Jen. Unfortunately, the business world has become riddled with these stereotypes and it doesn’t help anyone. When one can truly give every person a fair chance without making assumptions, they’ll truly grow and benefit from it.

  3. Good points. It’s hard not to assume you know what someone is about by “sizing them up” but you don’t. Everyone is different and that really comes into play in a valuable way when you think of your customers or who you are marketing to.

    Shelly
    @BeachBettyPR

    1. Interesting that you bring up marketing. I think actually, that when it comes to marketing and advertising, that’s the only time when stereotyping is beneficial. Trying to understand your audience, or classify groups of people that you’d like to reach out to will require some generalization. It’s unreasonable to try to understand each individual in your target market. Of course, in this situations, you’re not using stereotyping to assume the abilities of an individual, and so it’s not quite the same.

  4. Great post David. I think your position could easily lend itself to non human things too: tools, ideas, marketing initiatives, behaviors and more.

    There have been several articles written on twitter, teens, Gen Y and the rest of it that scream inexperience, ignorance and no desire to unlearn their preconceived ideas.

    People who are too quick to jump to conclusions and unfounded judgements really are doing themselves a dis-service – be it a person or a social tool.

    What do they say? People with a smidgen of knowledge are very dangerous…?

  5. Great advice.

    I would tweek one thing. I don’t think that all stereotypes are based in truth. I would say that they are based in beliefs, or at least learned behaviors.

  6. Excellent blog! Do you have any helpful hints for
    aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own website
    soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or
    go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m
    completely confused .. Any recommendations? Thanks!

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