Ã¢â¬ÅNo matter how horrid a person may appear on the surface, if you dig deeper, you will find some nice, unexpected little quality.Ã¢â¬Â —Brooke Astor
One of the biggest causes of conflict in this world is the snap judgments we make about people based on ridiculously limited information.
As we go through life, it is only natural to lump people into categories instead of treating them as the unique individuals they really are. And, when left unchecked, that mental lumping together creates a fertile ground for prejudice to blossom.
It is especially easy when someone rubs us the wrong way. The next time we see people who seem to fit into a category as the one who ruffled our feathers, we are much more likely to ride in with shields up and guns blazing. But all that does is further their stereotype of people like you.
Snap judgments only add fuel to the fire which can have a tendency to flare up from time to time.
I can be guilty of it myself. Interestingly my one big prejudice that I’ve had to work to overcome doesn’t have anything to do with skin color, nationality, religious alignment, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, economic status, or any of the other major categories that we tend to lump people in.
As a result, for many years I deluded myself into thinking that I wasn’t prejudiced at all. But my prejudice was more subtle and as a result much, much more insidious.
I was prejudiced against what I called stupid people. Of course one day I eventually realized I was using my own definition of stupid. I considered anyone who didn’t think like me to be generally stupid.
I felt that their “stupidity” gave me the right to treat them like jerks. I was completely wrong. No doubt about it. I was the stupid one.
Over the years I’ve learned that people that I outwardly have absolutely nothing at all in common with, even people who strike me as incredibly horrid at first brush, have the potential to become good friends. I just have to invest energy to dig a little deeper, spend some time to get to know them, and allow them to get to know me.
It seems so much easier to dismiss those who are different as one of “them”, and use that difference as an excuse to rationalize why they “deserve” the lousy treatment I’m sending their direction.
In reality dismissing people is a very short-sighted approach to life.
It’s like that old commercial for the oil filters that said, “You can pay me now, or pay me later.”
Lumping people into categories is easier and costs much less than treating them like individuals. But in the long run it costs so much more in increased conflict in our lives.
The choice is yours. Dismiss them as horrid and treat them like jerks. Or invest into digging a little deeper and discover that nice, unexpected little quality.
–Chris Cree, SuccessCREEations.
Chris is traveling as this post airs and so most likely will not be able to comment back.