There’s A Huge Difference Between “People Like You” and “You.”

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about fear and how it blocks our ability to see clearly. Often our fear not only prevents us from seeing ourselves and our opportunities clearly, fear also prevents us from seeing “The Other” clearly and what they may have to offer us. As Seth Godin so poignantly comments in his blog “Not People Like You” today, (entire original blog text printed below) when we allow fear to rule our judgement, we just “stripped away not just someone else’s dignity, but our own.”

Godin goes further to suggest that questions such as “What have you done?” “What do you know?” “Where are you going?,” asked with genuine curiosity rather than outright eliminated by our closed minded fears “are a great place to start, to choose people because of what they’ve chosen, not where they started. Not because this will always tell us what someone is capable of (too many people don’t have the head start they deserve) but because it is demonstrably more useful than the crude, expensive, fear-based shortcuts we’re using far too often.”

I love this idea. Giving people the opportunity to allow them to tell you who they are and where they are going and what they have done that they are proud of is a far better way to get to know them and for them to feel safe to reveal themselves to you.

Right now, I am living in and writing from Ecuador. I have seen the worst of the “Ugly American” all over Ecuador, the ones who are technically “Guests” here and yet walk around with an attitude and giving off this air of “I’m better than you,” treating Ecuadorians with disdain, distrust and dismissal.

I will have more to say on this subject in a future blog. But for now, as I see it, it is the “Ugly Americans” who are red lining the majority of Ecuadorians. As Godin points out, “The challenge with redlining, beyond the fact that it’s morally repugnant, is that it doesn’t work. There’s a difference between “people like you” and “you.” You, the human being, the person with a track record and a great attitude and a skillset deserve consideration for those things, for your psychographics, not your demographics.”

Here in Ecuador, the Ecuadorians are treated by the majoity of “Gringos” and “Ugly Americans” as demographics instead of psychographics. It is truly heartbreaking for me to watch.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that I responded so deeply to Seth Godins blog today, “But Not People Like You.” See what you think. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Till next time….

But not people like you

We’re hiring, but not people like you.

I’m looking for a doctor, but of course, not someone like you.

We’re putting together a study group, but we won’t be able to include people like you.

Redlining is an efficient short-term selection strategy. At least that’s what we tell ourselves. So the bank won’t loan to people in that neighborhood or people with this cultural background, because, hey, we can’t loan to everyone and it’s easier to just draw a red line around the places not worth our time…

The challenge with redlining, beyond the fact that it’s morally repugnant, is that it doesn’t work. There’s a difference between “people like you” and “you.” You, the human being, the person with a track record and a great attitude and a skillset deserve consideration for those things, for your psychographics, not your demographics.

When there’s not so much data, we often resort to crude measures of where you live or what you look like or what your name is to decide how to judge. But the same transparency that the net is giving to marketers of all sorts means that the banks and the universities and the hiring managers ought to be able to get beyond the, “like you” bias and head straight for “you.”

Because ‘you’ is undervalued and undernoticed.

When we say, “I don’t work with people like you, I won’t consider supporting someone like you, I can’t invest in someone like you,” we’ve just eliminated value, wasted an opportunity and stripped away not just someone else’s dignity, but our own.

What have you done? What do you know? Where are you going? Those are a great place to start, to choose people because of what they’ve chosen, not where they started. Not because this will always tell us what someone is capable of (too many people don’t have the head start they deserve) but because it is demonstrably more useful than the crude, expensive, fear-based shortcuts we’re using far too often.

In a society where it’s easier than ever to see “you,” we can’t help but benefit when we become anti-racist, pro-feminist, in favor of equal opportunity and focused (even obsessed) on maximizing the opportunity everyone gets, early and often.”

~Seth Godin

PS: Would you like more ACCURATE, AUTHENTIC and UP TO DATE INFORMATION about ECUADOR?

WORDS TO THRIVE BY FOR WORLD TRAVELERS: FOOTPRINTS IN ECUADOR by Mary Anne Dorward

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