How quickly we label people.

“He’s so kind”, we say.
“She’s so frustrating.”
“He’s only out for himself.”
“She’s so brilliant.”

There are at least two problems with this.

The first is that in the midst of these labels we all too readily discount any evidence to the contrary – we see the label and miss the person. The second is that such certainty about others quickly invites into comparisons – ways we get to feel better or worse about ourselves.

Both of these obscure for us the full range of qualities present in the people we know.

And then we have similar stories about ourselves.

“I’m so terrible, so lazy, so selfish”
“I’m wonderful, all together, so perfect”

What would it be to treat our labels as just the start of knowing someone, rather than the end? That way we can step out of the very narrow band through which we experience people. And perhaps we can start to discover the wondrous complexity, and the unknowable vastness and mystery, of every single person we meet.

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