In the next few newsletters, I’m examining ‘us’, the concept of ‘we’ as a people, as individuals, as groups, as types and as a whole. What we are and apart from “mostly water”, what are we ‘made’ of?
We are individually unique – which means we’re all ‘different’ and although this uniqueness applies to our external appearance, that’s only one element of the story. What makes us really different from one another is how we behave, how we operate, how we think, and how we feel. No two people have the same thoughts, the same mind or the same spiritual make up – to which I’ll return later.
Because the dominant sense through which we take in information is visual, we tend to categorise people according to what they look like and what they wear, but this doesn’t really tell us much at all. We cannot ‘see’ what each other is thinking or what they are feeling at any time. We get some clues, but these are very much open to misinterpretation.
Carl Gustav Jung the 19th century Swiss psychologist identified four general ‘personality types’ which have been widely used ever since to predict how – in general – people will behave. Many different interpretations of Jung’s theory have been used in recruitment and so-called ‘human resources’ (HR) management to attempt to find the ‘right’ people for the ‘right jobs’.
What is often forgotten or ignored about Jung is he was very clear people did not exercise only one personality type all the time. Depending on the context and circumstances we can exhibit each of the types, although we do tend to have one which is dominant.
Classifying people according to their appearance tells us nothing, is not helpful and is a primary cause of conflict between people who ‘look different’. Appearance can also be used to manipulate how others ‘see’ people.
Professor Robert Cialdini, the expert on ‘persuasion’ discusses three factors in establishing how ‘authority’ may be perceived by others. These are ‘title’ how you describe yourself, ‘trappings’ – the ‘stuff’ you carry around like your car or watch, and ‘clothing’ which describes how you want to be labelled and who you wish to identify with. Many people do seem to be ‘lost’ if they’re unable to ascribe a ‘label’ to everyone they encounter. The trouble is it’s usually completely wrong!
I’ve identified by my studies, by my experience and ‘by my travels’ around 25 ‘labels’ which cast a different perspective on who we are. Like Jung’s four categories they’re not exclusive, and people – ‘we’ – may identify with more than one and may recognise more than one in the folk we encounter.
Some of these ‘labels’ may be perceived as ‘positive’, others as ‘negative. It doesn’t matter as it depends entirely on your point of view. The list is not comprehensive, you or I may think of more as we go along, but what should be understood is these labels, these descriptions, apply across all cultures, all beliefs, and all ethnic groups. None are specific to any one group.
I’m hoping this will help us understand who ‘We the People’ really are!