I once met a man who, with great faith in his ability to play Sherlock Holmes, announced that he could recite various things about my background based solely upon listening to me give a presentation on management.
I eagerly listened to his detailed analysis, but at the conclusion had to inform him that all of it was wrong. He'd constructed a picture of me that had no connection to reality. I could understand how he might have concluded certain things and yet he missed an elementary truth about people: They are complex.
It is so tempting to seize upon one factor and believe that you've captured the substance of a person. Certain words evoke powerful assumptions and prejudices. Think of the images your mind produces when you slowly read the following:
- Volvo Owner
- Bow Tie
- Pony Tail
- Black Belt
It can be hard to tell whether our assumptions are binoculars or blindfolds.