Stop using labels and start taking action

I remember a commentator being upset about the media using cliches such as “kicking the can down the road” when reporting on the national debt. In his mind, labels like this prevented us from discussing the problem and as such lessened the likelihood of taking action. 

Ironically, enough, this is the first time I recall questioning catchphrases. That was about ten years ago, and at the time, I thought that using commonly understood labels was an efficient tool to get everyone caught up on the issues. 

Now, as I reflect on my personal and professional relationships, I realize how using labels carries a lot of unintended downsides. 

Let me use a simple example. Whenever we fail, or we want to avoid failing, “I suck at x” tends to be a label of choice. The problem with this commonplace statement is that it typically rules out a possibility of improvement.

For example, when I used to say, “I sucked at talking to women,” what I meant was that I wasn’t willing to put in the work to communicate effectively. I preferred to stick with the dysfunctional habits I picked up at home and hoped to meet a woman with supernatural abilities who can read my mind. 

I stuck to the label because it was comfortable. If I said what I hid behind the “I suck” statement, I’m positive that I would have acted much sooner.

What labels get in your way? How can you take action?


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1. Understand how your actions are affecting the relationship.

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