Labels are part of how humans make sense of the world. But, when we reduce things to categories, we falsely convince ourselves that we understand our unknowable universe. Labels are, and have always been, the great separator. At work and out in the world, they’re used to make uneducated snap judgments. Labels influence the way we think about what we actually know very little about.

Now, more than ever, it is important to avoid taking the easy way out by accepting labels as truth. Start by noticing the frequency with which you use labels…to make sweeping generalizations to explain complex issues, or to categorize people who we don’t even know.

Once you become more aware of how labels shape your perception, use your brain’s enormous capacity for curiosity to look beneath the seemingly familiar and known.

Like snowflakes, every person and every situation is unique. We have within us the ability to treat them that way.