What’s in the Fine Print

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As a consumer, I find labels can be incredibly useful. In the grocery and hardware store, they point me in the general direction of items such as bread and bolts. I am especially grateful for the labeling on food items as I have allergies to seemingly harmless ingredients.

However, sometimes labels can be a bit deceptive.  One of my favorite label tricks is the use of “sugar-free” on packaging which seems to be code for “contains artificial sweetener.”  Yes, an artificial sweetener isn’t traditional sugar, so the label isn’t false. However, it is a bit misleading, and you have to read the fine print.

Unlike a screw or a diet drink, people come with a multitude of attributes that help to describe them.  But… labeling people can be tricky. All of us are a little bit of 'this,' and a handful 'that,' plus a smattering of a whole bunch of other things.

Sometimes we seem to forget that, or maybe we’ve just become too lazy to dive deeper beyond a superficial interaction. We tend to lump people into a single category. We all have our fine print, which we chose to divulge, that can vary widely depending on the social or work setting through which we meet.

Some know me through work as an educational designer. Others see me as a mom heavily involved at school. A handful of people know me as the 'New Mexico girl' with a freezer full of green chile, and only a select few know me as the one to call when you need a buddy to see a live show. I’m all of these things. They make me who I am.  

Even though different people know me in different ways, that doesn’t change who I am inside and how I see the world based on my experiences.  Labeling me as just a writer, or a Mom, or whatever single limiting category someone puts me in best would be missing my essence.

My point is the next time you feel the need to give someone a label, think about what you know about them. You might be missing the fine print on their label that describes what’s inside and thus an opportunity to make a connection: a real connection beyond our computers and smartphones with actual living people.  

It’s these personal connections that inevitably propel our careers as entrepreneurs and help fulfill our daily lives.


Megan Hanson

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