Communication is something we are ever-learning in our lives. We discussed in the past two blogs how our prayer time with God as well as assumptions are two of the driving forces of how we communicate with others. I would like to share about the last one – stereotypes.
A stereotype is, “to believe unfairly that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same.” Assumptions and stereotypes go together, because if a person assumes something about you, they will automatically categorize you in some way. Let me give you an example of a stereotype. Say, for instance, a person dresses very nice. One could assume that they are arrogant, ultimately forming a stereotype about them.
If we really give this some thought, a stereotype is usually based on a past experience we had, positively or negatively. If we encountered a person in our past who dressed nice but struggled with arrogance, if we are not careful, we can assume that those we meet today and in the future who dress nice are that way as well. To stereotype an individual is very unfair. As stated in the last blog, every person deserves the right to show who they really are to us.
Far too many times have pastors and religious leaders experienced being negatively stereotyped. Just because a leader in our past had some growing to do does not give us the right to group all pastors together and call them fake. The point I want to drive home is that when we are not healed from the experiences we had in the past, we can easily look at people with the wrong perception, and we can also treat them unfairly, even though they are not the person who offended us. The ways we talk to and communicate with people we’ve formed stereotypes about are directly connected to what we’ve experienced in times past. So it pays for us to be delivered from those experiences, and give everyone a fresh chance to show their true selves.