By Rachel Gogos
The Danger of Labels
I started reading a book recently called “Raising Your Spirited Child” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. The book is especially written for parents of children who are more persistent, sensitive, more energetic, more intense, more perceptive, etc… I had the good fortune of attending a live lecture with Sheedy, about her book and during our time together she asked the parent-filled audience to shout out adjectives that described their children. The audience shouted out all sorts of words, including some four-letter ones. What happened next was really interesting. She “reframed” every negative word on the screen into a positive one. For example, “persistent” became “focused” and “whiner” became “go-getter.” This got me to thinking about the damage labeling can lead to in the workplace, a school and on the web. We could damage our peers, colleagues, friends, spouses and even worse, our children. How much do labels communicated during early child hood influence our personal brands and who we become? That led me to thinking about how early do we actually cultivate our personal brands? What is the impact of others’ labels on our personal brands during our adult years? Could it cost a job promotion? We each look at life, our environment and our immediate circle of influencers through our own lenses. Those lenses might be rose-colored, they might be dusty, broken or damaged. They might also be crystal clear but communicated to someone else who has imperfection in their lenses. We can’t control how others’ see or perceive things, we can’t control how others hear things, but we can control what we say and how we label others. So think twice before you associate a particular brand attribute to someone – it can cost him or her. This article was cross-posted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s “Digital You” column.
Rachel Gogos is the Chief Brand Builder at brandiD, a digital marketing and web design firm specializing in building unique, attention-getting, online identities through personal branding, social media, and highly differentiated WordPress sites.