General Labels

by stuart10er

No, General Labels isn’t yet another General wrapped up in the Pentagon sex scandal.

I was listening to a program today, recording a few weeks ago before the election, on the differences in thinking between folks from “Red” states vs “Blue States”. While there are many substantive issues that separate these people, they have one major thing in common.

They generalize and label the others as “out of touch”, or “not open minded”, or in a strange corner case, both sides compare the others to Nazis. Now, neither of them are Nazis, of course. But the similarity in both sides is that they don’t want to think about the substantive and quantifiable differences. Rather they label the other side and in this generalizing and labelling can keep the people at an arm’s length and not have to even consider their positions.

Why is this ok to do? or better yet, why do thinking, reasoning people think that this is ok? Do they not realize what they are doing?

I was helping someone I work with recently with some email communications with another party that they needed to forward some things to that were being transitioned from one group to another. The receiving party was struggling with what they were getting. Not understanding what was expected or needed and getting frustrated. When it came down to it, it was because the person sending it was including instructions – orders, if you will – on *what* was to be done with them. I’m sure the sending party did this to be helpful – but it wasn’t. So, I counselled them to refrain from using any verbs in the email. So, send the information, give some context and background, but refrain from telling people what to do.

In thinking about the Red state/Blue state issue, when you hear people being described by the verb “to be” – as in Liberals ARE this that or the other – or Conservatives ARE something or another. Then this is a generization and these should be shunned in any form of communication. Generalizations of this sort are bad. And that’s the truth.