Stop with the Personality Labeling Madness

introvert-extrovert“These quick and simplistic personality judgements often say more about the people giving the judgement than the ones they are judging.”

I once worked for a psychometric testing company for two years. Prior to that period of employment I’d gone through many jobs including working in warehouses, retail, bar work, university administration and now a freelance writer, but I can honestly say that the admin work for the psychometric company was without a doubt the worst job experience.

It wasn’t the two years of soul crushing mundane tasks or the hugely inane team building games that made this job hell, it was the company’s instance on labeling every employee with a color and then seeing and treating them as that color.

This company would give employees a series of questions which when answered would provide the employee with their personality colour. My colour was green, which meant a giving/helping type, whereas to the management this color actually translated as office dogsbody. I didn’t actually give this color labeling thing much thought. Although this was the business I was now in, the test seemed like complete hokum and could easily be manipulated simply by giving different answers in order to come up with a different color and the  preferred personality. Some people however, took this labeling extremely seriously and the management types never shied away from boasting about their ‘red’ color as if it were a badge of honor, as if their personality color beat the others hands down. The irony shouldn’t be lost that such a ‘dominant’ personality type would actually need validation from this sort of test.

Over my period of employment at this company, I soon found that new employees were often asked what color they were, so that others could come to a quick and easy assessment of newbie’s personality. The person asking didn’t need to know anything about the new employee apart from their color – and from then on that’s who this person was in the questioner’s eyes. This color question analysis would be trotted out by these enthusiastic disciples of the cult of personality branding whenever someone visited the company headquarters or whenever there was an international sales conference. For a company that was allegedly big on valuing diversity they were hugely in favor of giving everyone an easy to read label, because as we all know, the answers to a few questions and a color are all it takes to assess a person’s entire personality.

MK-BX634A_FBDAT_G_20121001180604I’ve noticed this labeling process a lot on the internet – you’re part of this group or you like this or hate that so that is what defines you, how people see you. I’ve also noticed a huge amount of introvert versus extrovert articles online or those with the ‘loud people versus quiet people’ headlines, and I find these articles, along with the many ‘work out your personality’ Facebook tests to be all too simplistic although I know they are supposed to be ‘just a bit of fun’.

Labeling people with specific personalities is great for sales and advertising, because these corporate sectors need everyone to fit into a little box for the sole reason of making it easier to find a target audience to sell their products to. With Facebook it wouldn’t be a complete stretch to imagine they are using the answers to these personality questionnaires for the purposes of targeting specific audiences for advertising.

People are a lot more complex than a set of questions but this doesn’t sit well with the labelers who want others to be a certain type. The more simplistic you are, the easier it is for them to think that they understand you or the easier it is for them to dismiss you if you’re not on their wavelength because you are not a specific type of personality in their cookie-cutter world.

In the past I’ve been called shy, quiet, sweet, funny but I’ve also been called loud, obnoxious, arrogant, an asshole – so which is it? It’s probably all of these things because that is what people are. People are a culmination of their life experiences, their attitudes in a certain situation, the environment they are in or the people they are with.

Labeling people does a huge disservice to individuals because people change throughout their life and they can also change from minute to minute, from situation to situation. A label is the most basic definition for a person, and in reality it means absolutely nothing – it’s not who you are. Someone you have spoken to for 30 minutes is not going to have the same take on you as someone you have known your entire life. Even the mood of the people you are with at a certain point will make a difference to how they see you.

These quick and simplistic personality judgements can often say more about the people giving the judgement than the ones they are judging. And in a huge number of cases, certain people are just looking for another reason to use a label to either hate or to spread hate and build an ‘us versus them’ world.

article-2609583-1D3CA6CC00000578-373_634x331You only have to look at the way politicians label people in a negative light in order to spread fear to see just how well this tactic works. Politicians have been successfully using fear and hate labels for years to gain a voting audience, to reach the highest positions of power and to send countries to war.

 

If you want to truly shut down understanding about the world and the people in this world, then keep giving out these labels and keep promoting an ‘us and them’ mentality. It’s done us a lot of good so far, right?

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Stop with the Personality Labeling Madness, 10.0 out of 10 based on 8 ratings
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About the Author:

Garry Crystal is a freelance writer living in the UK. His short stories and articles have appeared in print and online including Expats Post, The Andirondack Review, Turnrow Journal, Roadside Fiction and Orato. His first book Leaving London is available on Amazon and other retailers now. View My Profile

  • Larry Conley

    Excellent, thought provoking essay on one more way ignorance is dressed up as insight. If we humans as a species, it will be, in my opinion, because we used our big brains to obscure rather than reveal the truth. No person can be definitively reduced to a label and the widespread pretense that this is meaningful simply demonstrates the prevalence of credulity and sloth among those who should know and do better.

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    • Garry Crystal

      Thanks Larry, ‘ignorance as insight’ spot on.

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  • Garry! I’m totally raising my hands in the air while saying “Hallelujah!!” or “Preach”, you know something like that. I couldn’t agree more with this piece. 🙂

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    • Garry Crystal

      Thank you Nods, glad you enjoyed it. Keep your hands in the air until they are tired.

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