Not Everything In Life Is Black And White…

Prejudice is, by definition, an unfavorable opinion formed beforehand or without a true knowledge of facts.  Prejudice comes either from observation or it is learned. We judge based on limited perception and knowledge that we have others.

There are two types of prejudice. One is observational prejudice, which is not based in hate, and it is human nature. Let me say that again…it is not based in hate. For example, you are in a bank and a man brandishes a gun and rushes into a crowded bank. The first reaction for many would be to have fear and run away.  No one is taking the time to get acquainted with the gunman and discover his true motives; instead they would make an instant judgment. Drawing conclusions about a person based on observation and before all the facts are known is observational prejudice.  We can see that he has the intention to perform a criminal act and our best judgment is to get out of harm’s way.

The worst type of prejudice is that which is taught to others. Learned prejudice is a belief adopted by someone who blindly follows the judgment of others without requiring any actual proof; they only require someone else to agree with them and they follow along with the crowd beliefs, never making up their own mind to how they choose to see others.  This is the prejudice that most see that is prevalent when we see others who judge based on color, sexual orientation, different sex and various other deviant reasons.

Most would say that judgment of anyone is uncalled for, however, prejudice serves both evil and pragmatic purpose, and the use of beforehand-judgment must always be carefully measured.  The confusing the labels of prejudice can be alarming – observational prejudice is human nature and can serve a beneficial or protective purpose, where as learned prejudices are spawned by society itself, rarely does this stand up to any scrutiny.

I have always subscribed to the theory to judge others not based on superficial reason but on the merits of their character and convictions.  This is learned prejudiced that I have carry with me since childhood. I realize I may be alone in those principles but I have passed this one to my son and strive to impart this wisdom to others I have mentored as well in business and coaching. Our society is one that is quick to judge on superficial, surface based beliefs and too many have written off others based on this prejudice.  There is nothing wrong with being prejudice when it comes to your safety; there is nothing with using good judgment when presented with facts.  What is wrong is that so many seem to not know the difference.

Jennifer Olney
Over the course of my career, I have been sought after by numerous organizations to bring my talents in the arenas of sales, marketing and business development. As the Founder and Director of Business BEALEADER, I bring my experience to the table to expand the knowledge base for those seeking to find their own leader within. In 2011, I created BEALEADER to be a platform for individuals to share their expertise and leadership to make others better by being a resource of business, career and marketing solutions for those who are just starting out or maybe have a “few” years under their belt and need keep their skills fresh. In addition to the BEALEADER platform, I have developed the business units BEALEADER Business Services, which provides marketing, business development and human resource management services and BEALEADER Executive Coaching Services, which provides one on one and group coaching services to executives and individuals. These business units expand our ability and brand to make others better as we reach out to our audience with these unique product offerings. In 2014, I was named to the Inc.com list of Top 101 Leadership Speakers and I have written for several publications such as Yahoo! Small Business, Business 2 Community and others. I have also co-hosted several podcasts and in 2015 will be hosting the BEALEADER podcast for our audience as well.
Jennifer Olney
Jennifer Olney
Jennifer Olney

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  • Powerful post, Jen! I loved how you broke down the difference between observational and learned prejudices. A very awesome read, my friend. 😉

  • July 8, 2012

    Jennifer Olney

    Thank you very much, Deone. There is a great divide in how folks see prejudice and I wanted to highlight the difference. I appreciate your comment greatly. Cheers.

  • […] a good friend of mine, Jennifer Olney, challenged this learned behavior in a post she titled, Not Everything in Life is Black and White. I thought she did an excellent job breaking down observational and learned prejudices. In one part […]