Definitions Life Skills

“Pigeonholing” someone…. Do you pigeonhole?

A pigeon is a type of bird and a pigeon hole is a very small hole made in a piece of wood for pigeons to stay in.  This hole is only slightly bigger than the pigeon, so the pigeon has little room to move.  If you “pigeon hole” someone, it means that you make too many generalizations about that person based on a stereotype.  It isn’t a good thing to “pigeonhole” people.  For example, a common stereotype is that all lawyers are crooks… if you think this way, then you are pigeonholing lawyers… accountants are boring… cooks are fat…. Artists are airy fairy… etc.  Now, stop to think about it… are all lawyers crooks? Accountants boring? Cooks fat? Artists airy fairy?  Of course not.

I get really annoyed when people assume they know me and how I think and feel just because they think they know me… I am pigeon holed a lot.  I am a Leo…  According to astrology – I am an extrovert… like crowds… like to lead, etc.  If you think that describes me, well, you have pigeon holed me… I am very much in introvert… hate crowds… and will lead behind the scenes, but really hate to be “in charge”…  I usually end up leading by default (meaning when no one else wants to).

Many people aren’t aware that when they begin to make a name for themselves, they are creating a “brand”… and what’s more, that brand becomes hard to change once it’s become established in people’s minds.  I am not saying it is good or bad… it is just limiting.  We all need to look past the brand…  first impressions are usually solidified if that is the only experience people have with you… we are known by many as “the crystal people”… while we certainly do “crystal work”, it is a very small part of who we are…

Let’s say you meet someone through your work… in your first impressions of the person, you might get certain information about them and begin to process the information.  Info about the person: sales, tall, outgoing, friendly, good-looking, aggressive, push, slick, smart, egotistical.  Each of these impressions helps you make decisions about the person.  But you might not find a good “pigeonhole” yet, even after spending an hour with the person.  But then you Google or Bing him and learn about his education, accomplishments, family.  You read his blog and get still more information.  You meet with him again, talk on the phone, work on a project together.  Soon you have a pretty good idea of the person and you “pigeonhole” him firmly.  But what if the guy wants to change?  What if he no longer wants to be pushy and egotistical?  What if he wants to be a better listener, more compassionate, kinder?  Would it be easy for you to change your pigeonhole of the guy?  It is possible, but not easy. 

So, I guess what I am saying is – let’s not be so quick to quantify, classify and put people in boxes… in holes… let’s try to keep our minds open…

I really do not want to be in a pigeonhole…  anyway, do pigeons drink coffee???? hmmmmmm

3 thoughts on ““Pigeonholing” someone…. Do you pigeonhole?”

  1. Very interesting to compare a presumably “good” thing like establishing a brand with this. I know I tend to personally go overboard the other way, trying to do things my own unique way … but I do wonder if it isn’t just as insideous to avoid the pidgeon hole like the plague? & one does lose the advantages of a brand, too. Hmmmmm

  2. I find it interesting as we at times do pigeonhole ourselves.

    Loved your response Robert !!

  3. Interesting topic!
    Made me think about not only how we pigeonhole others but in a sense our tendency to pigeonhole ourselves when we unconsciously begin to identify with our own brand!
    WE also can see ourselves in action when we pay close attention to what triggers our tendency to pigeonhole others.
    Often times the very issues we react to in relation to others are in fact our own issues that we project outwardly to the world/people rather than taking ownership of.

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