We tend to put labels on other people. These are words to describe some kind of flaw we perceive in them. For example, you might say another person is lazy, or a bully, immature, a hot-head, or a gossip.
It is easy to put an unflattering label on another person. The underlying logic behind hurtful labels is “why can’t you be more like me?” Actually, it is human nature to see the flaws in other people much easier than to see our own improvement opportunities.
In reality, we all have ways we can improve, but we tend to focus more on the ways other people need to change in order to be more perfect. We make up the labels to see the flaws more clearly and give them a name.
Our self-talk tends to excuse the things that we do because “under the circumstances” we are doing the best that we can. We give ourselves a pass on some personal habits, but other people will pick up on them and put labels on us.
Distribution of Warts
It is helpful to remember that God sprinkled a roughly equal number of imperfections on us all. Nobody goes through life without some labels being put on him or her. Someone may say that you procrastinate constantly. You think to yourself, I make sure that I know what I am doing before I jump into action.
Try to Catch Yourself in the Act
It is really difficult to break the habit of putting unflattering labels on other people. It is part of the human condition. Because you excuse your own flaws and wish other people could rise to your standard of excellence, you are not conscious of when you are being judgmental of them.
One way to reduce this problem is to catch yourself having a negative thought about another person that becomes a label. Recognize that you just did it, and have a conversation with yourself about how that person would react if you used the negative label to his or her face. The more you can catch yourself doing this the easier it is to become conscious of it and change the habit yourself.
Free Bonus Video
Here is a video that contains more information on the labels we put on other people along with some additional tips on how you can break the cycle.
Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 1000 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.