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What’s in a name?

A statement made recently by someone with whom I was business coaching reminded me of one of the critical mental mistakes many of us make from time to time. A common mistake that can alter our basic perception…or total regard…for another person. It is the mistake of labeling.

When you say of another he is “a lazy person”, “a bad person” – or even “a snake”, “a loser” – that is the way you tend to see that person. The more often you say it/think it – the “label” is what the person becomes to you. Bad Person” is not an adjective (as some would defend), but a noun. No such creature exists.. All a person can ever be is a person. Period.

Think about this in terms of those you have labeled – including yourself. If a wife refers to her husband as “a thoughtless man” often enough she will begin to “see” him as such. It won’t matter how often he takes out the trash or asks her how she’s doing. All she will see is a thoughtless man. He (a person) has been redefined . When labeled in this manner often enough, the person will buy into the behavior – cease to defend and behave as he has been labeled “a thoughtless man.”

Of those we have labeled “bad people”, we are discouraged about their ever changing their behavior. They become, dreaded, hated – the enemy.

A person is not a behavior. Learning to separate the person from the behavior allows us to look further into personhood. As fallible human beings, who among us is not capable of behaving thoughtlessly – or badly?

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