Categorizing and Assuming… Not Always the Answer

One size does not always fit all. I learned long ago that “one size fits all” baseball caps – don’t – namely – don’t fit me. I think other people look great in them but when I squeeze my head into one with great pain and agony, I only get a deep ring indent around my

unknown person facing sideways

Photo by Eric Hammett on Pexels.com

skull and a nice “marshmallow with a rubber band on one end” type of look. It’s a fat heads need not apply kind of thing.

In life, education, processing of information, etc., categorizing and making assumptions is part of the fabric of human functioning. The greatest of human accomplishments depend on this basic process. However, it doesn’t always work in relationships with other people. One size does not fit all.

I’m a firm believer that teams are stronger when creativity and trust are fostered. While it is true that team members should demonstrate trust and trustworthiness, it should be “doable” on the team. This becomes NOT doable when we measure motives instead of actions and categorize and assume without truly understanding a person’s motives. Don’t expect a one size fits all mentality to work.

For example, one of the areas where I see this issue arise is in the workplace because it is now occupied by four identified generations. While these identifications are only general references, they do help highlight differences in the way of thinking of different age groups. We are all impacted by world events and influences in our upbringing and life experience. How work is done and how it is viewed has evolved tremendously the over the last 60 or 70 years. It’s an area ripe for categorizing and assumptions about people from one era or another, which means it’s a conflict generator. How things once were or perhaps “should be” easily can become one size fits all thinking that will lead to false assumptions and wrong categorization.

ground group growth hands

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We’ve been focusing on this issue at cfd Investments, Inc. where I serve as Project Manager. We’ve developed some activities to help us discuss this issue and we have sought out resources to educate our company on this topic. We want to avoid making assumptions about “young” or “old” that hinder the creation of trust, creativity, and productivity. I’ve seen our efforts to move away from a one size fits all mentality make a difference.

Keep assumptions and categories where they belong, but use great care when it comes to people. Even though there are challenges, I don’t believe it’s ever a mistake to be vested in your team or your teammate’s success.  When it comes to people, avoiding a one size fits all mentality is a win all the way around.

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