What’s in a Label?

Written by  on November 12, 2004 

…and what give you the right to tell me what sort of a person I am. What sort of a label is that anyway… that’s nothing like me? No wonder I am so angry. Far out!!!! And you think I’m bad, you don’t have a clue”

“I don’t have a clue? All I said was that you needed to grow up and you have got all defensive and angry…”

“I’m NOT angry…”

We see it all the time. Another argument with similar undertones…. And so it goes on! The trouble is, we have lost the ability to debate or put across our view without adding a label about the other person. We make it personal, we let them know what’s wrong with their persona and it’s a very weak position to come from.

If you want to win the argument, don’t resort to pinning labels on the other person. I can tell you now, you will be incorrect in your assumption and it will reflect badly on you and your argument. It’s a weak place to come from. It virtually shows you have lost the argument and you are now taking pot shots and the other side… It’s a coward’s way of dealing with issues.

Your evaluation of the other person will not be anything like how the other person sees themselves. Unless it is a compliment, of course, then anything you say will resonate with good vibes even though they still may disagree or argue against such a compliment.

The fact is that people see themselves a certain way and if you tell them different they will feel like they should also tell you a few home truths about you.

As you listen you can see that the other person hasn’t a clue… they are saying things about you that are completely wrong. Whoa, hold it right there! Yes that’s right… They are saying things about you that are completely wrong, yet you were in the process of telling them how they are… and, of course, you are right?

Since when have you been the perfect judge of another and they are so far off?

It just doesn’t work that way. No matter how the other person appears, you can betcha they don’t see it like that. Especially if you tell them

Gender is a great subject. You know, Men are from Mars, Women from Venus. Talk about drive a stake through any argument. Just try saying… “You are a bloke, you wouldn’t understand” and see where that gets you in trying to make a point. Or “Is it that time of the month?”… Want to wear a fry pan, try that!! It’s the classic line that wins many an argument…NOT

Yet it still gets said. God help us all. When are we going to be brave enough to stop putting emphasis on the other person and come to the table with our issues? You see, we don’t even know how to do that, do we? We say, “OK, this is my issue… I get into trouble when you get your period because you are…”

Oh that’s good, I like that one… it’s your issue and yet you are heading straight back down the path of asking for trouble by then putting it on them again. Good work!

You see what’s happening? We are programmed to point the finger, to blame, to make judgment calls about the other person and we shy away from stating the obvious blemishes in our own make up. We shy away from the things we know about ourselves.

Ok, so you are a bloke! Great, so am I. If you want to win the gender argument, don’t feed the fire with stupid comments that show you haven’t a clue how to conduct yourself. As soon as you try to say something, you are a lost cause because you will usually be using the word “Y-O-U.” You have just lost your case; you have destroyed your whole argument.

Why not say sorry, for causing so much strain? What did you say?… because you didn’t cause it? Why is it so imperative that you have to be right…? I bet you will gain far more brownie points by simply saying sorry, than going to bed without handling the issue. I know which one of those two scenarios is going to get you a cold shoulder.

We have to move away from this win-lose situation and if we think we are the intelligent one in the argument, then prove it by being intelligent. Think!!!

It’s been an interesting time for men since those early days of feminists and the burn the bra brigade. We have sat on our haunches watching and observing until we get to now and we find we are up the creek without a paddle. We have watched while women have fought for equality and we have nodded or shook our heads at every advancement and women are still fighting for their place and what are we doing? Watching and observing!

Suddenly we are faced with a different world and we aren’t equipped or prepared. It’s now moved past the point where the woman stays at home and cooks while we earn the money. That changed many years ago. What were we doing? Just watching and observing! Right now we have a lot of ground to make up. We have to grow up. We have to learn to live in this different world. It’s not a worse world, it is just different. But what are we doing… well apart from watching and observing, we are arguing like it was the nineteen fifties. Like we are the master of the house… he who is to be obeyed… Hey wake up fellas!!!

While we have been observing, others have progressed and now we aren’t sure how we fit in. Otherwise why do we argue like we do? We have lost our roles and we aren’t sure how to act now. Well start defining your role. Design your role and work it into your life, not as a hassle but as a positive step. Just because you are required to do some new chore doesn’t mean that it’s a backward step. Don’t point the finger and blame or cry foul. Lets work on this one together not as us and them, but as a unified group making advancements.

To do this we must learn the basic premise around putting forward points of view. State your issue or case in wording that relates to yourself with no mention of the other person at all. Finding that difficult? Well that’s why you have to learn this new skill. You have now found something to make progress on.

Now, if you feel I have been only including the Males of our species, think again. Everything I have said applies equally to both Male and Females alike. Start being as intelligent as you have been considering yourself and if you don’t consider yourself intelligent then profess intelligence and act accordingly.

For I can tell you that if one of you starts to make an effort in this area and the other one stays fighting the old way, This will crash and burn. There will be cold shoulders aplenty if only one party starts to make steps forward in his area.

So my rules for survival in this area are

1/ State the issue without using the word “You”

2/ Any frustrations are addressed by concentrating on your own feelings (and don’t say “I feel that you aren’t…”)

3/ Concentrate on the issue, not the other person

4/ Act intelligent even if you aren’t

5/ You don’t lose face by admitting or acknowledging your shortcomings. (or apologising)

6/ Be prepared to learn

and last but not least….

Be thick skinned enough that, if the other person makes a mistake while arguing or stuffs up, you will allow it to pass. In other words, even if the other person points the finger at you, be brave and stick to the issue.

It’s a two way street. Everyone has to play a part. Don’t play the old way. Don’t label people by stating their imperfections as you see them. Try the “new” way, I can guarantee you will do more good than harm.

Have a great week

Cheers… Bill

Bill Gray

Bill is a Business Coach. Working with Individuals, Businesses and Organisations to create better environments and to develop and enhance business ”potential”, into successful business practices.

Sydney, Australia

Ph +61 413 949 521

Copyright ©Bill Gray billgray.biz All Rights Reserved 2004.

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