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.

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Stereotype-Fu – Draw Them In

As I have noted ad nauseum (and as we've seen ad nauseum), stereotypes often raise their heads in the business/career world.  We, being fanboys, fangirls, geeks, otaku, metalheads, what have you, can face some pretty annoying stereotypes in our professional lives.  Dealing with it intelligently is a way to both keep our sanity – and we can always turn it around to our advantage.

One of the oddest cases of being stereotypes in the work world, from an interview to a client discussion, is when the people stereotyping us FIT the very stereotype they're inflicting on us.  The person that jokes about you being a game geek themselves can repeat dialogue from Final Fantasy 7 verbatim (with voices).  The person that jokes about your body piercings has enough metal in their body to make a toolkit.  The person who snubs your taste in emo music listens to songs so depressing they're banned in several countries.

This is annoying.  This is hypocritical.

THIS is a chance to engage in some stereotype-fu and turn the stereotyping to your advantage – by connecting with the person in a way that changes their views and relations to you.

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Stereotype-Fu: Find the Positive

So when confronted with people stereotyping you on the job there are many ways to turn it to your advantage.  This is a necessary strategy to learn as:
A) People will use stereotypes – often with no malice.
B) You're a geek, fanboy, fangirl, otaku, tech-head, game fanatic, etc.  As of this writing people like us do get stereotyped.

One method you may use, when you realize an interviewer, client, or co-worker is accidentally stereotyping you is to dive straight into the stereotype – and find the positive in it.

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