Stereotype-Fu: Be yourself!

Continuing the series on dealing with stereotypes in your career, one thing people rarely consider is that you can fight the negative stereotypes you face as a fan, techhead, sports nut, etc. by BEING that role to the hilt.

If people hold stereotypes of you, it may be best to not worry about it and go around BEING that fan, b-movie fanatic, comic book reader, etc. to the hilt.  In short, be less repressed and more open about your interests and your geekery – without being aggressive.

This doesn't work in every situation – it won't work in the case of hostility, extreme negativity, and conflict.  This is more a tactic to help defuse more passive or just plain ignorant stereotyping by BEING the fan you are.

The result of being your own geek, of posters and action figures at your desk, wearing team colors, etc. is that people get used to it.  At first people may wonder about your anime wall scrolls at work, but in six months they'll be used to it.  The next football season people may want to wear their team colors just like you did.  People adapt.

And by being the geek you are, being that fangirl, that fanboy, people get used to YOU.

Slowly, it defuses the stereotypes.  Your positive behaviors become remembered and what made you odd is soon habituated too – or even appreciated.

Let me note again that being "in your face" is a BAD idea.  It produces hostility because being "in your face" about something is an aggressive action, and in the case of subtle social psychology, that tends to backfire spectacularly.

Instead be yourself AND be that nerd.  In an environment where stereotypes are more due to ignorance than malice, your positive behaviors and being a fellow co-worker, a respected consultant, etc. is what will be remembered.

Wear 'em down with positivity.

– Steven Savage