Some women CAN read maps!

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a comment or inference that, because you’re a woman, you can’t read maps (or because you’re a man, you don’t listen), then you may understand the frustration and annoyance that goes with this kind of generalisation. (I actually happen to be very good at reading maps!)

Yes, men and women are different, and there are several books available to suggest reasons why. You may have your own favourite.

Such general statements come about as a result of our ability to make generalisations as we interact with the world around us. As a child, we learn labels for things in our immediate environment; door, chair, bed, shoes, etc. Initially, we assume that word represents that particular item only, until we come across other doors, shoes, chairs. Then we use this information to generalise. We quickly learn that ‘door’ could come in many forms and sizes.

Fortunately, the ability to generalise saves us from re-learning things over and over again. However, we need to err on the side of caution when making generalisations regarding human behaviour.

I recently overheard a comment that ALL drivers of a certain make of car were reckless and dangerous, after the person making the comment had been “cut up” by the driver of such a car. This type of statement gives an unhelpful label to such car owners, and can lead to further prejudice if not checked.


If you hear yourself making generalisations, listen out for the verbal clues that can accompany them. For example: use of the following words … all, every, never, always…

  • He/She never delivers a good presentation
  • Every time I make a suggestion, you ignore it
  • I always receive negative feedback when I try to introduce something new

This unhelpful language often limits us to take action, move forward, choose something different, and see the positive actions of others.

So, whenever  you hear yourself making general statements, ask yourself the following:

  • Never? / Always? / Every time?
  • How helpful is this statement to me?

Which unhelpful generalisations have you heard / made recently?

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2 Responses to “Some women CAN read maps!”

  1. Julia Chisholm Says:

    An interesting post and something I can identify with both as an individual and in my work as an employment mediator. Thank you for a simple yet thought provoking post!

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