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.

Don’t Pass the Torch, Just Share the Light

Photo cred: Mark "the trial"
Photo cred: Mark "the trial"

I really appreciated and related to Patrick Evans‘ latest blog post on his mentor program titled Why You Should Be a Mentor.

He writes, “I hear so many generational experts and business professionals criticize millennials. We don’t work as hard as Gen X folks, we expect things that past generations didn’t and overall, we could be the opposite of the greatest generation. We need your help! He goes on to provide 5 reasons why professionals should consider acting as a mentor for our generation.

I’ve seen many Millenials / Gen Y bloggers that are proud and confident in their belief that they will succeed.  I have also seen seasoned professionals respond by describing the overconfidence and inevitable disappointment of our generation. A good example of this is Teresa Wu’s guest post on Chris Brogans blog and her follow up response on her own blog.

I really enjoyed Teresa’s post and felt that her intentions, to shed some light on the mindset and views of the future Gen Y professionals, was accurate and useful.  The discussions afterward, ehhh not so much.  Whether either viewpoint is right or wrong, I feel is irrelevant and I am always disappointed to find such unproductive discussions taking place.

The important thing is that we all have something to contribute to the community as Patrick described very well.  Seasoned experts and professionals have learned a great deal from their experiences.  They understand what works and what doesn’t. They have been put in real situations that have required them to use critical thinking and problem solving to perform their jobs efficiently given unfamiliar situations.  With such talents, they can truly be great mentors to younger generations who strive to find the same experience and hopefully, success.

In a time of great change, especially in terms of technology and communications, the millenials have a great deal to contribute in return.  While the great amount of experience that many seasoned professionals have developed provides them with knowledge and understanding in their field, it also instills in them a sense of routine to the traditional methods of practice. Of course, these professionals are still very capable of innovation and creativity but they must also acknowledge and incorporate the millenials’ young, FRESH set of eyes and ideas on an evolving industry.  Technologically savvy, communicating on the internet as early as elementary school, they are able and willing to contribute to the future of what the experienced professionals have worked so hard to build.

Instead of arguing about which generation is better, and why the millennial mindset is unreasonable, we should all be working together.  Through collaboration we will find true growth and success as a community, young and old.

If you’d like to mentor a young PR pro, send Patrick an e-mail at patrickevans@gmx.com. He is setting up an e-mail mentoring program to connect young pros with seasoned public relations and social media professionals.

Edit: There’s a very lengthy but good example of the view of Millenials on the WSJ here.

-David Spinks

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