One of my grade school teachers recommended that we refrain from using words like never, always, forever, everyone, and no one. While I don’t remember the name of the teacher, I clearly remember what she said.
I remember because even in the days when I saw things as black and white (the extremes), I did my best not to use those words. Even in the days when I had difficulty seeing what was in the middle, I dis-liked generalizations and people who inferred what was possible for specific individuals.
In today’s world, there are lots of generalizations at play:
- Everyone of a particular race should be treated the same way
- All people of a particular religion act exactly the same way
- Those in a particular political party always think about all policies in the same way
- All individuals in a particular generational group behave in exactly the same way
- It’s all their fault
Generalizations cause us to put people in boxes and miss out on experiencing new cultures and new perspectives. They lead us to extreme thinking forgetting what is in the middle. They cause us to become resistant to anything that doesn’t fit our view of the world.
Effects from the pandemic are resulting in generalizations too.
- We have to always meet in person, we cannot network virtually
- No one can possibly be productive working from home
- I don’t believe anything the medical community tells me
- We’ll have to stay inside forever
Interestingly enough, I am attending virtual calls with groups of people I could not be with if they met in person. When in corporate, I worked from home productively for 10 years along with 50% of the employees in my company and others are now seeing the benefits. Even the Spanish Flu and Bubonic Plague didn’t last forever – and historically – nothing really does.
Here are some things to consider in the context of generalizations:
- Do you have a tendency to generalize and label people? If yes, what makes you think everyone in a particular group is the same?
- Do you hold onto opinions or think you know it all and keep yourself from learning from other peoples’ perspectives? Consider what you are not seeing.
- Are you looking for what you are missing out on because life is not what it was, or are you creating new opportunities and ways of being that are even better than before?
If you are stuck in a rut of generalizations or obstinate opinions, consider transformational coaching to support you to shift and grow? Contact me for a complimentary coaching conversation.
June 2020 © Systems of Change, LLC
Great point on the limitations of generalizations.
Thanks Tish. I was struck by how much generalizing I see going on in the world these days. Appreciate your reading the blog and your feedback.
Thanks Mindy. Again, you provide a forum to make me think , open up and question and grow.
Speaking to the last paragraph…. I am, in this new environment, looking at the opportunities in my life. All this change that is happening ….some of us complain and want what was , others see the gifts in the new normal.
We are all different .
Hi Lynn, Glad to provide a forum for you think, open up and question, and grow from. That’s very true that we are all different and therefore how we reply or react will be different as well. Speaks well to the point about what we don’t see by generalizing.