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How to think without a box or stereotype

In: Education & Learning, Inspiration

According to psychologists, a stereotype is a general assumption or notion about a specific type of people. It is a meaning or concept that people have about every person or a particular group of people. This sort of expectation differs; it can be, for example, anticipation about the group’s identity, tendencies, impression, or ability. A lot has been talked about out-of-the-box stuff for decades or even longer.

We adopt a lot of out-of-the-box approaches in a lot of our dealings. For example, hiring processes, marketing campaigns, lifestyles, attend events to mention a few. Despite our progressive creativity, and approaches in every aspect concerning our lives, the way a lot of us think about people and things that we don’t properly understand or have had a conversation with is still very much in a box. And this box causes hindrance to our moving forward as tolerant and open-minded people.

We all are similar and share a lot of common details, characteristics, viewpoints, preferences, etc. However, at the same time, we all have varied backgrounds, different flaws, challenges, and situations. We all are faced with different traumas, we live with various disabilities, we go through life’s intricacies differently. We use our vigors differently and our threshold for pains differs for every individual. The option is not always fun. Like confining everyone to a box. Stuff like all blacks are racists, gays or lesbians can never make good parents, feminists are haters of men, and the list continues on and on. Why do we then choose to put ourselves in a box? It is very inevitable that a lot of people we support have their own dark sides and this may impact other people negatively. A lot of us find it impossible to have a conversation with someone whose view opposes ours. We find it so difficult to tolerate different viewpoints and as such we are quick to dismiss it and go with the general without even considering potential validity in it.

There is a general saying that goes thus ” show me your friend and I will tell you who you are”. A lot of people have been stereotyped as being people that they are not by people who are quick to judge and generalize. Take, for instance, being in the company of gays, lesbians, drug addicts, alcoholics, and the rest. Let’s keep their bad involvements or engagements aside. There are a lot of good sides to them asides from them being what they are. They might possess some qualities or characteristics that are endearing to their smaller group which makes one want to acquaint with them. But the society we are in, are quick to judge without communication. And one might be quickly concluded to be a part of the caucus which is not so.

In my research, I came across a very interesting read wherein 1983 a white man walked into an all-white music concert in Maryland. And he came across a black man who played piano. He got so impressed with his piano skills and decided to walk up to him. Oh, I like the way you play the piano he said. This is my first time hearing and seeing a black man play the piano like Jerry Lewis and then the black man told him that even Jerry Lewis got his inspiration from the black men. Now this same man invited Jerry for a drink and went ahead to tell him that he has never had a drink with any black man. When asked why he told Jerry that he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Now the irony of the story above, despite being a Klansman, the man became a regular sight at Davis’s performances, because he learned to see him as an incredible personal piano player, rather than through the eyes of group stereotypes. This story goes further to disclose an important ability for creating bridges between various kinds of people: concentrating on personal factors rather than group personality.

It might seem difficult to come to terms with the idea that we should concentrate on what individuals say and do and believe, rather than inconsiderably deducing those aspects from their group membership. But rather we use group association to assess individuals always. At this juncture, I believe we can do away with stereotyping if we adopt a few strategies. For instance, having a heart-to-heart honest conversation with the individual involved. Give them room to express themselves. Hear them out and be considerate about their viewpoints as well. In addition, we should let go of bias. Because someone gives you an impression about a person or a thing isn’t enough reason for you to be conclusive of that narrative without having to do a proper finding.

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