Destructive labeling occurs when you characterize something or someone in a generalized and negative fashion. For example, if you are a supervisor and an employee comes in late to work, thinking that this person is irresponsible or doesn’t care about their job is an example of destructive labeling.
Destructive labeling can be applied to a situation as well. Perhaps you are engaged in a problem that you have not been able to resolve. You through up your hands and say to yourself, “this is stupid.” By labeling the situation as stupid, you can give up on the problem, without remorse perhaps. However, the problem would still remain.
When you find yourself engaging in destructive labeling, a good way to counter the distorted thinking is to be specific. Rather than saying, “this is stupid,” you can look at the specific issue and identify what is bothering you about it and why it is bothering you. When an employee is late, rather than characterizing the employee as irresponsible, rephrase the thought in a complete sentence that specifically and accurately addresses the situation. ”When the employee was late this morning, I felt this behavior was irresponsible; however the employee may have a good reason for being late.” Even if the employee did not have a good reason for being late and was acting irresponsibly, it’s a lot easier to address an irresponsible action than an irresponsible person.