by Analyn May
I’ve always liked categorizing things. Putting my Pokémon cards in order by type, sorting my dolls into kids and adults, as long as I was categorizing things I was happy. However, when I reached a certain age, I found my interests leaning towards categorizing people.
Now, some people may think they know where this is going: that stereotypes are bad, that we shouldn’t judge people right away, and all that good stuff. But, there’s a difference between typing people and stereotyping people. Stereotyping is assuming major facts about people before you really know them: for instance, that all football players date cheerleaders and aren’t very bright. Typing people, on the other hand, is learning what people are like and learning how to communicate with them. For example, this group of people may enjoy hugs and cuddling, but that group of people feels uncomfortable with physical contact.
I’ve found that learning how to properly type people can be a big help in both day-to-day conversations, and in improving communication when having serious discussions. There are lots of different methods used to categorize people — the most common probably being “introversion vs. extroversion”— but my favorites are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI) and the 5 Love Languages. The former is a very specific description of how people perceive the world, but it takes some time to learn, and it’s hard to understand any given category of people until you actually meet someone in that category. The second, however, is a very simple concept developed by Gary Chapman in his book, “The 5 Love Languages.” It explains that people have different ways of showing and receiving affection, which is why two people could be trying their best to show love to each other and yet still both be feeling empty inside. The book also includes a test in the back to figure out what your love language is, as well as suggestions for how to show love to people in their own love language. The book was originally aimed towards married couples, but the ideas work in any kind of relationship, and there are now other books for those relationships as well.
The reason I am talking about this is that a lot of the problems in the world are caused by miscommunication and misunderstanding. Watch any sitcom and my point will be apparent: When people don’t take the time to understand how other people are feeling, it almost always results in catastrophe. This is especially relevant for kids like me, who belong to a very uncommon category of people. Not only are we often misunderstood — and therefore treated unkindly — but we actually have trouble being kind to others, because we don’t know how to express kindness to people who think and feel so differently from us.
What I’m suggesting is for everyone to look into one of the categorizing methods mentioned above, or to find their own method that works for them. The world needs a lot of things right now, but if it had more understanding, perhaps some of the other things it needs would emerge as a result. Of course, that’s just my POV. Until next time, this is Analyn May, signing off.