Prejudice.  Is there ever a single word that immediately provokes such intense emotion? We are often influenced by prejudice in one form or another. To be clear, I am not talking about racial prejudice, I'm talking about prejudgement becoming prejudicial to an open mind.

We prejudge others based on how their looks, what they are wearing, how they talk, what car they drive, who they associate with, where they live, the list goes on. 

Prejudging is more commonly known as generalisations, placing people and things into categories or boxes.  This can be a positive thing and can help keep us safe. You wouldn't walk headlong into a group of rowdy drunk people for example because you know the likely outcome. You prejudged the situation and came to a sound decision.

Prejudging stems from our extrinsic learnings; how we were raised, the friends we had, the interactions with others and a myriad of other influencers. However, prejudging becomes detrimental when it becomes prejudicial because reality is confused with our perceptions. 

Prejudices are based largely from negative events that we encountered which cloud our future interactions. They close-off our minds.

Here's an example.  I trained with the elite military forces of New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. For those that know how hard these people train, you would have a vision of me in your head and placed me into a category.  I trained with these teams on military exercises, I was a negotiator talking on the phone. Now you're brain has probably taken me from one box and placed me into another. 

We do the same with voices.  We hear a voice on the phone and immediately have a vision of what that person looks like and respond accordingly. The last time you heard a voice on the radio you had a vision of that radio host and when you saw them in real life you were fascinated at how that voice could come out of that mouth. It was not the person you had pictured in your mind. When speaking with them in person you probably won’t hear what they are saying because your prejudgement doesn’t meet reality.

The next time you find yourself being influenced by prejudicial thoughts, know that it is just your brain protecting you from earlier encounters. Acknowledge then dismiss these negative thoughts as they are probably incorrect.

Keep an open mind when meeting new people, you will be pleasantly surprised at how similar we all are. Or maybe they aren’t which is even more fascinating.