Does Your Label Fit?

by Administrator 16.Sep.2014 12:32:00

Humans undoubtedly want to understand one another in easily explainable and relatively certain terms. Yet so many of us seem barely able to articulate who we are and what we really want – preferring instead to fall back on assigned labels and behavioural etiquettes!

Fueled by technological advance, the popularity of psychoanalysis, and influenced by ubiquitous political correctness, today’s business world seems to be more heavily invested than ever in processes that label, tag and categorize everyone in sight. Certain! Safe! Detached!

Think how often we are asked, as an essential first step in determining suitability for a job, academic, social or volunteer opportunity, to interact with a program that definitively tells us we are a J … an X, a Yellow, a Blue …. or perhaps a giraffe, a tiger or an elephant?  Similarly, the business world seems to echo the psycho-babble tendency of the social realm. We hear constantly of empowerers, enablers, rescuers etc. Fast thinkers are immediately shelved as ADHD, and folks with any apparent lack of focus are, for sure, ADD! How complicit are we in this facile labelling of ourselves and others? How readily do we accept these results? Are we indelibly and eternally categorized? 

I suppose it is obligatory to state upfront that I am not knocking the popularity/efficiency of psycho-analysis, nor am I a Luddite hell-bent on discrediting the use of profiling tools. I am however questioning the accuracy and the efficiency of assigning a permanent label to any individual. I ask myself:

  • Are people, their moods, behaviour and thinking processes constant? Surely we change… day to day, year to year… depending on changing circumstance?
    What, and to whom, does any given label mean?
  • Are we abandoning our thinking/instinctive ability?
  • Surely technology and computed knowledge are limited to known variables and also susceptible to human error? (The garbage in garbage out cliché has some traction here…)

Is above average excellence, original expression & creative thinking a la Galileo, Da Vinci, van Gogh, Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence and Polanski easily labelled and tagged? Will much needed innovation be stifled if analyzed thinking does not fall into recognizable classification systems? 

The human factor, inter alia, instinct, gut-feeling and random perception, is a critical attribute in guaranteeing team efficiency. Think how often in medical or automotive scenarios, despite evident problems, we are told we are fine and sent home because the battery of diagnostic tests came back negative! Think how grateful we are in such context for the Dr. House types and their ilk who, in the face of stiff opposition brought about by persistent and maddening questioning, make a wonderful contribution to keeping the ball rolling and identifying workable solutions. Do labelling processes weed these folk out at the outset? Are they brilliant or are they out to lunch? Are they trail-blazers or negative time-wasters?

Recognizing others and their behaviour is time sensitive – It is perhaps prudent consciously monitor people, at any given time, as they are … rather than as they should/are expected to be…! 

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