A Conversation About Stereotyping from Organizational Behavior
June 2, 2014
A Conversation About Stereotyping
I have been thinking about this for about a week, but it really was not clear in my mind. This conversation involves people, so when one talks about people one must cover all the bases. It is difficult when one runs across someone who is smarter, or whose point of view is stronger than your point of view. In my studies of Organizational Behavior titled Conflict and Negotiation in the Workplace the text talks about a person who yields to the other party because the issue is less important, the value or logic of your position is not as clear, or the other party has more power.
Stereotyping is the perceptual process by which we assign characteristics to an identifiable group and then automatically transfer those features to anyone we believe is a member of that group. In comparing that definition to my free nature growing up, I did not have a lot of prejudices or biases about differences in people. If I did, I kept it to myself. I thought of myself as shy, although I did sing as the soloist in a church choir until I graduated from high school. That was my role as a teenager, but I did not associate that role specifically as something that needed refining. I thought things would fall into place as the saying goes.
My concept of stereotyping and church was such that I thought Christians were like Puritans, or so refined that I was offbeat about my position back then and less so in my perspective today. Religion is a study within itself, and I embrace the philosophy, but back then I did not quite understand the whole meaning of the text. Church did stretch my understanding in categorical thinking (formed opinions before thinking logically) subjectively because it involved human nature, I did well in school, yet there was a distinction; and that was between church and school.
My stereotypes were not as pronounced because of my association with my habits in my youth, particularly with smoking. I was physically fit, young, active, and naïve. I was familiar with the commercials on TV about smoking and lung cancer, however, I did not identify my habit in this situation as bad. As a smoker growing up and singing in church, my Sunday school teachers guarded, protected, and shielded my image of negative stereotypes. I can classify this type of faith as emotions instilled in the corner of my mind that needed a concept to change more positively. And, it did happen eventually, I quit.
I finally could relate to my experience of church and bible teaching that I was proud to be a part of; I made the decision about smoking, yet my perception of quitting was a result of prayer and studying the word. In the context of seeing a stereotype of a smoker, I must agree it comes from knowing about the consequences of smoking. While I became an avid participant in fitness and healthy eating, my perceptions were clearer, stereotypical images were not as biased as I reached maturity; I no longer affiliated those images as being a part of me. It was a feeling of exhilaration and locus of control (a person’s belief about control over personal life events) to see my self-concept come alive by breathing, self-verification of running, self-evaluation of a straighter posture, and self-enhancement of eating healthier meals. The benefits I received in the past as an employee, and that I had not learnt to take advantage of and promised to me, became a social norm nevertheless.
An emotional marker attached to fitness may have perceptual biases when people change their behavior, even when it is more positive. Has anyone ever been at the level of change that changes more negative than one can handle? It can if exhilaration and control is stronger in the other party’s domain. This is a time of discouragement, a time to step back and logically analyze where one is, and ask how to overcome that negative situation more positively. Someone may have said some negative things, or have done some negative things, or broken your heart in a relationship that make your emotions less motivated do for self. This negative situation can turn your life around 180 degrees; and it can make your serenity sour, so much so that fighting (even if it is within) becomes a social norm to end all the confusion. Does it matter if you are the stronger one?
Emotions more negative can turn a positive situation into a pity party. Life should take care of us, yet sometimes it makes me wonder, “Am I worthy? Who am I?” Life expects us to make something of ourselves and tells us there are tools to better our financial, social, and emotional selves. Then it happenstance shuts off for a while, at least emotionally it does and our drive slows down, our motivation is bruised, and our perceptions are hard-wired as a bad attitude. Stereotypes are stronger then, we question our social norms, falsehoods emerge, and we exaggerate our position in life. The sports-minded person is stronger (e.g.), college-educated persons are better off financially, or two-parent families spend more time together. We form the perceptional opinions to surface our contingencies; like stereotypes where one does not have to work too hard about categorical thinking
And what about discriminatory attitudes? Would I have some discriminatory attitudes toward others I am trying to emulate? If those persons were able to do it every day and love what they do, I would, yes definitely. Why? Because I would want to do that too and get paid for loving what I do, especially if they are too. Discriminatory attitudes within myself would probably be unintentional toward others due to my personal values because I would not want them to think I was trying to take something from them, or watching them waiting for them to fall down. We have to realize that not everything is going to be prefect all the time, so a person who may have a lapse in their motivational abilities to get the job done can recharge their motivation. A perfect time is to cherish that time, and tuck those memories inside of ourselves, to remember when we experienced negativity.
There is not any need to be jealous of your competition. When two people are under the same roof or building and interacting with one another, get to know one another, and get knowledgeable about that other person where a conversation is positive and each has some of the same goals to reach, there is no need for discriminatory attitudes. All the negativity can go out the window, all of those emotional attachments can be uploaded, and all those stereotypes can be downloaded into a file that only needs to open for review to remove negative emotional markers. Our neighborhoods do not need more enemies, but our neighborhoods do need more friendliness.
If the government and our local officials can relate to that, then that is a good thing. If not, more discouragement breeds conflict and conflict breeds stereotypes, so logically we can and must live amongst each other.
Reference: McShane, S. L. and Glinow, M.A.V. (2013). Organizational Behavior.