Ipek Williamson

Insight Coach

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Labelling People – Not a good idea

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We, human beings like to label people around us and let others label us. Think about all the labels you have attached to your children or your spouse, or the labels that have been given to you by your classmates, family members, colleagues, friends. Some were self-created but, most were given to you by others.  

Lazy, clumsy, shy, gifted, princess, aggressive, quiet, hyperactive, slow, genious are some of the labels that are most probably commonly heard of in your environment. Maybe you had one of these labels in your childhood or even have it now.

Have you ever thought about the effects of these harmless-looking labels? Did you know that if you label your child as “hyperactive” just because he/she is a little too dynamic, especially in others’ presence, he/she would exaggerate their actions to “impress” you and to live up to your expectations? Even if that is certainly not the way you want them to act?

When you label someone as smart or intelligent, even though you would think as a positive label, it could still work the same way. It might work well at the beginning and up to a certain level until it becomes an extra source of stress to the one who carries that label. Until it makes them feel like everything they do, every decision they take needs to be smart or intelligent and anything less than that would never be good enough. Or a princess can never act silly, never can go out without appropriate clothes or appearance.

If you have such labels attached to your personality, or use similar ones for your kids, siblings or friends, you might want to take a step back and look at what those labels are and what role they play in determining your or their actions.

Because, all labels, positive or negative, have limiting effects on actions, choices and thoughts. They push the person to live within the boundaries determined by that label. They restrict their freedom to be whoever they want to be, to act however they want to act.

So, maybe from now on, we should be more considerate when we use words that might be perceived as labels. Maybe we should just criticize or praise specific actions rather than putting them all in a box and attaching a label to it.

Because, in my opinion, jumping to conclusions prematurely, labelling people easily just because that person acted in a certain way for a couple of times is not the right path to take.

2 thoughts on “Labelling People – Not a good idea”

  1. I enjoyed this article. I do believe labels kind of make things permanent. And we subconsciously live up to these labels. I feel the most dangerous part is when we label ourselves. We leave no room for change/growth and in other case we leave no room for being human and vulnerable.

    1. Emel Ipek Williamson

      I absolutely agree with what you’re saying here, Lana. We can block labels that others attach to us if we want, even if it’s not easy, it’s doable. But if we are the ones who label ourselves, then it’s a whole another ball game.

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