Look around. What do you see? Depending on where you are is going to impact what you are seeing and reacting to. If you happen to be at work, you might be seeing your colleagues, and any number of different visual images of what is happening in your work environment. What you are seeing and experiencing could be the same thing every day, or perhaps the opposite of that a job that provides constant changing circumstances and scenery.
Essentially bias is another word, or a softer word for prejudice. If you know me, this is a word or type of thinking I don’t tolerate. As a matter of fact, I have called people out on this in my own family. When I do this, I ask them to explain why they think the way they do. Most of the time I vehemently disagree with their thinking, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt to consider re-thinking the way they think. I’m not saying my thinking is always right. However, when someone is overtly voicing or acting upon a bias I’m not going to be quiet about it.
Yes, I realize you cannot change people. They have to want to change themselves. However, I have found that 100% of the people who have a bias are not able to credibly explain why they think the way the do to justify their biased thinking. This is sad, and I understand they have been negatively influenced by their environment and the people they have been around or are associating with.
I view being biased as a human flaw. One which is supported often by closed minded thinkers. Yes, I’m giving closed minded people credit by suggesting they are actually thinking about why they are biased in the first place.
We can all agree that at the beginning and end of the day we are all the same. Humans. No one is better than someone else, and everyone has something good to offer others. Although, sometimes you have to look a bit harder to determine what it is, I guarantee it exists.
So, is it possible to remove biases in our day to day lives either professionally or personally? Absolutely. You just have to commit to doing so. One of the ways to do this is to commit to noticing biases you might have in every moment of your day. Think about why you might have this bias. Then think about whether you can reduce or ideally eliminate it.
Imagine how much better our world would be if we were all able to see one another as equals? I’m not sure if in my lifetime this will be achieved. However, I can do my small part which is to put a spotlight on this topic. When we think, and talk about concepts, it allows us to consider the reason why we act or say the things we do.
Here are some suggestions I have for you to begin reducing or attempting to eliminate biases in your life. I know this is a huge challenge, but I am compelled to make this a better world for all of us to live in. So, this is my version of heading us in this direction.
- Commit to really getting to know new people. Find out what motivates them. Learn what makes them happy, or what makes them disappointed. Ask enough questions to determine whether they are “Pro” people, or closed minded and unwilling to give most people a chance to get to know them, or vice versa.
- Try not to immediately judge both people and situations. Attempt to be open minded right from the start. This applies to both what you hear and see.
- Listen to what others are saying. Really listen to them. Ask them questions to explain when you are hearing a bias of any kind. See whether by asking them additional questions you can potentially move them to at least a neutral place in their thinking, or verbalization on the topic you are discussing.
- Model neutrality. Do this as you are working on becoming less or unbiased, and do not verbalize or act upon ones you have.
- Do something kind instead of being biased towards a person, or put yourself into a situation you normally would not be involved with due to your own bias.
- Lastly, an old piece of advice which is still applicable today, is to treat others how you would want to be treated. I have practiced this my entire life, and give credit to my parents for teaching me this. It really works, and has made an enormous difference in my life.
Although I have hope I will live to see the world become an unbiased place, I am realistic about this. As you know that change can only take place if we want it to, we can all do our part by at least acknowledging our own biases, and doing our best to understand why we have them, and ultimately to let them go. Being free from biases is an incredibly lofty aspiration. However, why wouldn’t we want to aspire to something that could literally and positively change the world we live in?
Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too. She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Finder Coach, author of Wisdom Whisperer, and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer with a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances.
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