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Stop prejudiced expectations

Labeling is an assumption that people come to identify and behave in ways that reflect how others label them.

It is most commonly associated with the sociology of bad doings, where it is used to point out how social processes of labeling and treating someone as bad and problematic actually fosters poor behavior and has negative recoiling for that person because others are likely to be biased against them because of the label.

Teachers, counselors, even parents often label a child based on a specific aspect of the child's behavior or personality. The label then becomes an integral part of producing what is referred to as a "self-fulfilling prophecy."


Everyone around begins responding to the person based on the label, they expect behaviors that will confirm the label, and the person overtime begins believing it and acts in ways to confirm the label.

When we label someone, we are disabling them. We are preventing them from doing and becoming whatever they want and could become.

We are narrowing their possibilities and limiting their potential. In the long run the ‘labeled person’ will have a very hard time breaking away from the label.

People like to talk about difficult people. We like to think bad on others.

We tend to characterize people and put them into categories. We may say it’s a way of trying to simplify the world.

Our brains are ticked to do this automatically. Brains are wonderful information reduction and labeling machines.

They classify, label, and organize information to make our lives easier. While our brains do this labeling almost automatically, the process makes dealing with difficult people, more difficult.

Labeling a person as difficult (or stubborn, boring, or untrustworthy), is liking to predict their behavior and actions in the immediate and long term future. You are using the labels to create expectations on your part about how the person will behave. Not necessarily bad, actually.

Predicting difficulties can help us prepare. In another way, it is really bad. When we have negative expectations about someone based on a label, we act differently than we would with someone about whom we have positive expectations.

Your expectations and labels of people can cause you to create the exact behavior you believe will happen, a self-fulfilling prophecy situation.

When we label a person difficult and have poor expectations about the person, we are more likely to interpret their actions as negative, have strong emotional reactions to them, treat them abruptly or expect less from them.

All of these factors can create difficult situations with someone when no difficult situation was actually present in the first place.

Focus on what people do, not who you think they are or how you label them.

nst.jpgAzizi Ahmad , Kuala Lumpur NST News Opinion You Write Letters 9 November 2016 11:00 AM

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