Filtering Out People Who Don’t Conform to My Norms

photo of woman portrait wall art
Photo by Anderson Guerra on

Commission sales is really not for everyone. It’s probably not for most folks actually, but it is an extremely effective teacher in personal self-improvement. I either conquer my personal fears about talking to certain types of people, act confident, mentally discipline myself to continue on even when I don’t feel like it, be engaging and friendly, really listen, be patient and respectful to people or I don’t bring home a livable paycheck.

In my particular situation, I work a very large retail floor selling furniture to folks in a major metropolitan area. There are about 70 sales associates on an open floor meaning that we can engage or disengage with any customer that we choose. It also means that we are competing against each other for sales, and choosing to play by the floor rules or cheat out other people to get sales. In case you are wondering, I think the real challenge is to make a good living with integrity. And I believe that is also true with probably 98% of my fellow sales associates.

I’ve often thought of the sales floor as a microcosm of reality. Because in the course of our day, we have no salary guarantee, so that we are literally building our paycheck every day.  In the course of a day, we may have to solve difficulties that are completely out of our control, yet we have to face a disappointed, perhaps even angry customer. We may have friction arise with our fellow associates over their taking more than one customer at a time, (stacking) or we may have victorious highs of writing quite a number of large sales in one day! We struggle with knowing where our sales are at for the week, and not seeing customers walk in the door for an hour or so, perhaps we feel sick. It’s life, stuff happens! Some of it is in our control, other stuff is not. We have to deal with everything the best we can as it comes up, and most importantly; RECOVER QUICKLY!!! Learn the mental discipline of leaving things past in the past, and moving on toward the next sale. That can be very hard!

But the real reason that I am writing this is that I realized that I was raised to filter out certain groups of people. No, this wasn’t explicitly taught, but it was taught subtly. Here’s what I mean. . .

When I was a little child, we had Flannel graph to illustrate the Sunday School stories! (Yes, I’m that old!) And I remember that the Hispanic folks were always represented as being in poor villages, the Chinese were backwards, without technology, the Africans lived in huts in the jungle. The White missionary was going to these deficient cultures to tell them about Jesus! Now, I’m probably not recalling this correctly, but I imagine he was portrayed as wearing a suit and tie, or possibly flying in on an airplane to help these folks who weren’t on the same level as us Americans!

I was taught at one time that the black race was cursed from Ham, and destined to be the servants of all men.

Given this kind of background, guess what happens on the sales floor in a multi-cultured large city environment? I want to work with people who ‘fit’ my preconceived mold. Fit in MY PERSONAL COMFORT LEVEL MOLD of how I think you ought to be, and I will be your best sales person ever! Deviate from what I define the normal is, and get ignored.

I was raised watching The Andy Griffith Show. The Brady Bunch. My Three Sons. And that’s how I generally perceive how I want the world to be. I was also raised in small rural farming communities for the most part, and so my experience has not been multicultural, nor do I really have much interest in exploring that. These are my own personal shortcomings.

Combined with those shortcomings, my religious background has taught me that certain behaviors, certain ways of dressing are correct, and if folks don’t fit those parameters, they are deficient, sinful, immoral, and untrustworthy. Certainly I wouldn’t want to befriend them! But wait!

Didn’t Jesus associate with the social ‘outcasts’ of His day?

So where does this pseudo-filtering originate? More importantly, I need to identify it specifically, and destroy those kinds of filters.

As my kind-hearted sister pointed out to me the other day as I was expressing my disgust with a certain group of people who did not meet ‘my’ standards for lifestyle and dress. . .”they are all human beings.”

We are all human beings.

Nobody is required to please me, to meet my preferences. How arrogant is that on my part?

Love. What a concept!

It’s hard to love when I am surrounded by my own filters that blind me to seeing others’ humanity and innate goodness.

Less filters, more genuine interaction, more sales, more love all around.

Love, we are all human beings in need of love, acceptance, and respect!



    • Thank you. Some of us take a long, long time to start to grow up, in large part due to the religious and family blue-printing that was done to our thinking processes, values, and emotions as children. Offhand, I think the psychological term for this is ‘frozen development’.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s