When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?
As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?
Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.
Let’s park this one for now and we will come back.
Categorization is essential to our survival
There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses.
The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.
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 of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.
In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.
When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting!
Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.
- lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin
- lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin
The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.
Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored.
This amazing skill has its drawbacks
As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.
Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)
Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.
This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.
Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.
The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people?
We can overcome unconscious bias
Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals.
Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms.
Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds.
The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals.
What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!
The 7 Things that Are Preventing You from Enjoying Life to the Fullest
If you’d like to learn how to live each moment to the fullest and succeed in all aspects of your life so you can be happy, sign up for the free 90-Day Master Class hosted by the founder of Addicted2Success.com, Joel Brown.
To some people, life is unfair. To some, life is good. And to others, life is great. It all depends on your perspective and how much responsibility you take for your personal development and income. (more…)
How to Harness Your Own Uniqueness
If you’d like to learn how to harness your own unique personality traits so you can be successful in pursuing your passions, sign up for the free 90-Day Master Class hosted by the founder of Addicted2Success.com, Joel Brown.
No two people are exactly alike. Yet, we were all created in God’s image. Each one of us has their own preferences when it comes to things that they hold dear to their heart and things that do not matter to them. (more…)
Read This If You Are Tired Of Finding Excuses For Your Inconsistency
If you’d like to learn how to build strong and consistent habits so you can achieve your goals, sign up for the free 90-Day Master Class hosted by the founder of Addicted2Success.com, Joel Brown.
You are the main factor limiting the growth of your business because of your fears, limiting beliefs, inability to focus, and inconsistency. Three years into running my first business, one thought sits deeply with me: I might have the best strategies, yet nothing would work until my habits (or the lack of those) stand in the way. (more…)
8 Ways A Digital Detox Will Increase Your Productivity
There is a downside to being constantly plugged in. We all know that spending too much time online can be tiring and dulls our focus. A trade-off we must make for the benefits of living in a more connected world. If we aren’t careful however, the amazing technology that helps us to reach more people, be more informed, and do better business can really hinder our productivity. (more…)
Why Body and Mind Harmony Are So Necessary for a Successful Life
Take the Time to Answer These 3 Questions if You Want to Be Successful
Why Working Faster Matters Even When You Make Mistakes
5 Reasons Why Self-Motivation Can Prove to Be Your Strongest Armor to Stress
7 Self-Discipline Tips That Will Help You In Business
55 Inspirational Quotes That Will Change Your Life
(Images) 52 Motivational Picture Quotes For An Epic Year Of Success
30 Famous Quotes That Will Inspire Success In You
72 Positive Thinking Quotes For More Inner Strength & Growth
40 Rare Motivational and Inspirational Picture Quotes
3 Prince EA Videos To Change Humanities Path To Greatness
(Video) What Is Success? An Entrepreneurial Story To Inspire You
(Inspirational Video) What If Today You Knew You Were Going To Take Your Last Breath?
How To Make Enough Money From A Blog To Quit Your Job – Kate McKibbin
How Finding Your Passion And Becoming An Entrepreneur Can Lead To Happiness – Chiquita Searle
- Quotes4 weeks ago
50 Quotes From the Best Leadership Books of All Time
- Success Advice4 weeks ago
3 Things That Highly Successful People Do
- Motivation4 weeks ago
11 Success-Boosting Motivational Tips You Need to Hear
- Success Advice4 weeks ago
How to Make 6 Figures on YouTube and Keep Your Day Job
- Success Advice4 weeks ago
4 Things That Are Keeping You From Achieving Greatness Right Now
- Success Advice3 weeks ago
16 Everyday Habits to Boost Your Creativity
- Life3 weeks ago
5 Stress Management Techniques to Find Bliss in Life
- Life3 weeks ago
5 Essential Tips for Dealing With Uncertainty