If I occasionally hear someone using my name during the conversation, I can’t stop thinking, “That person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or been influenced by someone who read them … ” Did you just remember a similar moment and it felt good?
As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language for that person.” Why did Dale Carnegie have the meaning of a person’s name for that person in his “How to make friends and influence peopleBook published in 1936?
Each of us wants to feel special and unique. I think he recommends using the person’s name in conversation as this is one of the easiest ways to get that person’s attention so we can improve the chances of conveying our point of view. However, this interests me more from the other side; Hearing our names speaks directly to our individuality, our need for or Desire to feel special and unique.
Let us park it for the time being and we will be back.
Categorization is essential for survival
There are innumerable scientific studies on how our brain recognizes similarities and categorizes things. This was critical to our survival in evolution and still helps us with many things of learn new things to Managing the constant flow of massive information through our senses.
The continuous flow of information is mostly handled by our subconscious and not by consciousness. It is estimated that our brain receives about 11 million bits of information about our senses every second, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our consciousness. We process more information than we know. The magic here is that subconscious,
An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one. Then suddenly catch it immediately when you hear your name. Your subconscious mind had processed all of these words without your conscious mind, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.
In order to process so much information most effectively and to inform the consciousness only with that relevant those that concern our subconscious Categorization as one of his strategies.
When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savannah, their subconscious mind prompted their consciousness to fight or flee immediately by categorizing the information collected through their senses into “predator / life threatening / acting”. Most likely we are not descendants of those who were frozen instead of fighting or fleeing!
Although the situation is completely different, the same strategy was used when saving lists. Let’s look at the two lists below.
- Lion, eagle, shark, leopard, falcon, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin
- Lion, leopard, panther, eagle, falcon, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin
The second list is easy to remember because it is divided into relevant groups, although the content of the two lists is identical.
Subconscious mind is magic and categorization is one of their key strategies. It is important for our survival learn new skills and processing information and returning the information that we had processed and stored.
This amazing ability has its drawbacks
Based on our brain’s categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially when we don’t know them as well as our closest.
Imagine sitting next to you at the table while you drink your favorite coffee and work on your computer or read your novel in your neighborhood café. I get up, reach for your bag and go away. Your reaction can vary greatly depending on your outfit. It could be a lot louder and harder if I’m wearing a dirty t-shirt and torn jeans. However, if I wear a dark blue three-piece suit and a well-pressed white shirt with buttons, you could even say something like “Sorry, you may have accidentally picked up my bag“. (There is an experiment by social psychologists that reported similar results.)
Likewise, I would not be surprised to hear that my colleague’s spouse is very knowledgeable and competent in English grammar and literature as he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my colleague because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.
This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotypingas a result of the categorization strategy of our subconscious. The outfit I have in the café affects your reaction to my action, since it puts me in a different category depending on the outfit. Due to the background of my employee and her spouse, I can divide them into different categories, which can sometimes mislead me.
Just as we categorize things, it is very natural for us to categorize people.
The key question here for me is; How do we really treat people as individuals, so they feeling unique, just the way you want it, while we know that our brain categorizes people?
We can overcome unconscious prejudices
Leonard Mlodinow in his insightful book “Subliminal “suggests that “when we are deliberately from our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can. “That doesn’t mean we have to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We only have to use our consciousness more when we work or deal with individuals.
Our unconscious bias could tell us Scientists are a group of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it could say that Marketers are some daydreamers that scientists have to constantly bring to the real world, I am an engineer and I love to think abstractly. I have worked with many marketers who mainly thought objectively and specifically.
If you put a little effort into learning more about individuals, you can overcome unconscious bias. If we collect more information and properties about them, we can treat them more easily as individuals than as a member of the category that we bring to mind.
The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains are categorized. and it is essential; but also too recognize that everyone wants to feel unique, If we value these two and keep remembering them, we are one step closer to finding our own way to overcome unconscious prejudices and treat people more like individuals.
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