From a young age we’re taught that stereotypes are inappropriate, lead us to false conclusions and promote cultural biases that don’t have any place in a progressive society.
However, used correctly, stereotyping can be a powerful tool in your relational development efforts — provided you are willing to shed every part of the stereotypical picture you’d created once presented with the facts.
Stereotyping Best Practices
- Prepare. Use stereotypes as a means to prepare yourself for positive and productive interactions.
- Research. Create stereotypes through research. Understanding where someone went to school, when they went and what they studied can tell you a great deal about what they value and how they see the world.
- Discover. Use your research to find common ground (shared interests or experiences) that will help you begin to see him or her as a person instead of a name or title and allow you to begin the connection process, even before you meet.
- Let reality rule. Chances are the stereotype you’ve created isn’t accurate. That’s okay and expected. Start to disassemble your stereotype as you interact and begin to understand your new contact as a unique individual.
You have two job interviews scheduled and of course you do a little research. Here’s what you find:
Graduated from Oxford in 1967 with a degree in microeconomics. He’s single and enjoys butterfly collecting.
Graduated from Berkley in 1992 with a degree in psychology. She’s married with four kids and plays in a Jazz band on the weekends.
1. If you had to choose only one interview, which would it be?
2. Which interviewer are you most likely to connect with?
3. Would you change your approach in each interview?
Stereotyping is hardwired into each of us, a defense mechanism that helps to keep us safe from the unknown. Learning to use what your brain does naturally can help you rapidly accelerate your relationship development efforts.
As always, I welcome your thoughts at Jeff@jeffkaplan.com.