Everyone is biased and everyone can move past bias

    Charlotte Ashlock Posted by Charlotte Ashlock, Executive Editor, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

    Charlotte Ashlock is a crazy idealist trying to make the world a better place! 



    Everyone is biased and everyone can move past bias

    Have you noticed a lot of conversations, articles, and news coverage about bias? Have you questioned yourself and wondered whether you have bias or noticed places where you experience your own bias or someone else’s? Are you looking for ways to recognize whether bias is getting in the way of your relationships or your success in the workplace? If so, we can help. Human bias is a fact of life. It is an annoying and frustrating part of life, but we have all been in situations where we see it and think, “Oh no. This is not really happening. How could he think that what he is saying is OK?” Or worse, “Why did I just say that?” Most of us are paralyzed in those situations, not because we are bad people, but often because we don’t want to make a bad situation worse.

    Bias matters because we all have it and if you leave it unchecked, it can cause you to inadvertently push people away. So what exactly do we mean when we say “overcoming” bias? By overcoming, we mean to control, conquer, and prevail over your bias. We have already stated and will continue to state that bias is not something you are immune to. Again, we all have it.

    One way to overcome bias is to control it instead of letting it control you. Think of it as curbing a bad habit, just like, say, smoking or eating too many sweets. You have to learn to control your cravings, which begins by becoming more self-aware about your behavior, what triggers your desire, and experiment with strategies to interrupt your bad habit.

    You can conquer your biases once you know what they are and accept whatever implications they may have in your life and relationships. Some may balk at the idea that you can actually conquer your bias, but we disagree. Here’s what we mean: In any one instance where bias may influence how you treat someone, you can slow yourself down and make rational choices instead of relying on the subconscious parts of your brain. If successful, you will have conquered your bias in that moment.

    To learn more about how you can overcome bias and build authentic relationships across difference, check out this book, Overcoming Bias.