We all put people into different buckets. This is a way of coping with the complexity of life. We might have buckets for greenhorns and wise people, for friendly and unfriendly persons, as well as for humans within our ethnical group and for the ones of other ethnical groups. And we give all those buckets adjectives and traits we believe those persons have. Please don’t be afraid to admit that – that’s perfectly normal!
But there is one important point: For some of us, those buckets have holes, and people from inside those buckets can switch between buckets. Some people closely look at their buckets every once in a while. They redefine them, or take a person out of one and put them into another one or let their buckets grow together. These people let it happen that others can surprise them. They give everybody the benefit of doubt.
I live in one of the common buckets: a woman working in a technical environment. When I started to study, one of my fellow students actually told me that I am only studying something with engineering because I want to find a husband.
Also, during my working live I have encountered persons with an interesting view. One described me something technical on a fair as “magic”. I am still not sure if this was because he didn’t know better or because he thought I would not understand. But these things don’t only happen in a working environment.
While housesitting for my parents there was an electrician who needed a technical decision from us, and I told him what he should do. He actually made me call my dad before working on because he thought I couldn’t make that decision. But on the other hand I also had a lot of good experiences and support. In that call to my dad for example my dad just asked me why I hadn’t decided- because he believed in me and trusted me. I also had and have colleagues and supervisors who support/ ed me and were/ are interested in my point of view, because they respect me.
But I can also feel a lot of buckets around me. Traveling to Middle- or South America I am always asked: Are you not scared because there is so much violence, or how I feel about those poor people. I am not denying that there is violence – but don’t we have that here too? Also, unfortunately yes, there are poor people, but it first of all is not all of them and secondly even persons who we would see as poor, can have a richness we can only dream of. The richness of having people who care for them, a real feeling of community and most of all a joy in life. They might look on us and think we are poor.
- If you change the perspective, you might actually see something totally different
- Having holes in my buckets makes for interesting encounters
- People don’t have to stay in one bucket forever. Let them mix up, switch buckets, and re-think your buckets based on your experiences
- Give the benefit of doubt to everybody. It will give yourself a chance to meet fabulous people and learn from them
- Speak up for yourself and those who are treated wrong because of where they are from, their age or gender
So, drill holes in your buckets and review them!