No matter how you strive to be objective, you are biased. So am I. Our personalities, the way we’re brought up and even ego, contribute to our biases. Life and leadership decisions we make will be coloured by them. Our views and perceptions are filtered through them. Our biases are the lenses through which we see. What are the best ways to deal with our biases? Let’s start with the cost.
When we see the world through our biases we will always be blindsided by reality. You can imagine what that could mean for the decisions you make for your life. Or, what that could mean for resources you’re entrusted with in an enterprise you lead. The things at stake may differ but bias will cost you something, at some point.
One of the critical questions to ask is, “What’s at stake?” Knowing what I stand to lose has often been a crowbar to pry potentially detrimental views I’ve held on to. One of the best ways to deal with your biases is asking an acute awareness of the stakes. I have painful stories where my ego sheltered my biases and I lost either a lot or more than I should have.
One of the ways to deal with our biases is to count the cost.
The thing about bias, prejudice in some sense, is that we’re not always aware of them. It is other people’s biases that glare at us; often easier to see someone else’s bias than our own. Often, it takes people who see, believe or live contrary to us, to expose them. Our reactions are often the tell. When we, “…just don’t understand how someone could think like ___”, for example.
To be even more obvious: we can’t deal with them if we aren’t aware of them. This suggests we need to have an openness about us. I need to remember that my scales are always tipped and need others to help me balance them. This means I shouldn’t ignore others’ perspectives and perception. It also means I pay careful attention when they raise contrary views.
To deal with our biases we need others to put a speck on our lenses to make us aware that there is something between our sight and reality.
This means inviting them to point them out. It requires vulnerability. Being vulnerable is uncomfortable and sometimes painful. But, it is necessary to combat our bias for the better.
When they’ve pointed them out, denial doesn’t help much.
There is a caveat: not every bias is bad. Whether in a personal or organisational sense, sometimes biases distinguish us for the better. They give us a glitch that has great return. The important thing is to be aware, not deny and act in accordance.
So, in order to deal with our biases, we must be aware of them. This can happen if you’re open to people slinging some mud on your lenses. Without acknowledging your biases you’re not likely to make provision for them. This can create an isolated reality, a potentially dangerous bubble. Remember your scales are already tipped. Get others to help you.
How have you become aware of some of your own biases? What are some of the ways you’ve dealt with them?