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This past Monday’s post talked about the human tendency to judge others, label them, pigeon-hole them, or size them up which is really sizing them down.

Doesn’t it feel like we’re in a Judging/Labeling Pandemic today? And there’s not even a vaccine in sight! That’s unfortunate because, as someone has said, all labels are libels.

Still, it’s hard not to be infected and affected. I sometimes catch myself sizing somebody up or down almost before I realize I’m doing it!

But I’ve also noticed that this Judging/Labeling infection has three serious side effects.

First, when you label someone (in your mind), you don’t really see them. You just see the label, the fault, the appearance. You don’t see the mysterious, one-of-a-kind person.

Second, if I can just label the person and write them off, then I don’t have to deal with them. I certainly don’t have to care about them. I can just feel superior.

Third, labeling someone (in your mind) affects the way you are with them—no matter how much you “act nice”. And the way you are with them will reinforce the label or stereotype.

So maybe the “vaccine” for Sizing People Down is to See People Deeper. We need to think of seeing a person as a powerful creative act.

A teacher had a student who was always acting out, causing trouble. Other teachers had labeled him the “trouble maker”. But this teacher saw something else.

 

She didn’t want to get locked in to always treating him as “the troublemaker.” So she decided to practice seeing this boy, and letting him know she was seeing him.

 

One day he had a book about dinosaurs and she said, “Oh, I see you like dinosaurs.” He got excited, describing the book.

 

Another day, after she watched him playing kickball on the playground, she later told him, “I saw you kick the daylights out of that ball!” He grinned.

 

Day after day, she looked for opportunities to simply let the boy know that he was being seen—without judgment.

 

Then one day, when the boy was with the teacher, looking over his homework, he suddenly looked up and said, “I like myself better when I’m with you.”

Does that solve all the problems? No. But it’s a great place to start.