How To Check If You’re Biased
Biases in both the workplace and any organization are not limited to racism.
Biases can take the form of gender and class preference as well as behavior bias towards those who have dissenting opinions, and top performers or gift givers who benefit from favoritism.
Leaders in business are not the only ones who are prone to bias. In fact, many professors, pastors and doctors have shown biases in their teachings, ministries and practices.
Be willing to accept that you may have deeper biases than you acknowledge. The first and most difficult step in any personal and profound change is admission. You need to be willing to adhere to a level of self-awareness and come to terms with where your blind spots are towards others. You will not necessarily know what they are immediately, or even a couple of years after this decision, but you will being to open your mind and your heart to realize where you treat people disrespectfully. You then are able to start to work on those areas when they are brought to your attention.
Study your behaviors and tendencies. As much as possible, take the time before, during and after your interactions with people to do a self-awareness check. Are you going into that meeting already with your mind made up of who the other person is? Were you angry at this person for some reason other than their performance, such as making yourself look bad or not presenting the way you do? Did you leave the conversation with a feeling of superiority over the other person? When during these checks you become aware of your biases, start to study why you act or react the way you do, and work on remembering the triggers that create those changes in heart and mind.
Get feedback from people opposite your comfort zone. It’s easy to get feedback from people who are like you. In fact, they will most likely affirm the wonderful person you are. But that behavior in itself is a bias. In order to get a true picture of who you are, solicit some straight talk from those who are outside your sphere of comfort. You will get a more true picture of how you treat others who are different from yourself. In addition you will start to be more comfortable with people who are different from you and many times you will naturally drop those biases just by spending more time with them.
Make it right. If you have realized your biases have wronged anyone, you will need to set things in order as best and reasonably as you can. However you will need to exercise some caution, as some methods of remuneration and rectification may come across to the individual(s) wronged as disingenuous. Sincerity as well as the action to rectify a wrong need to be balanced, as the attitude towards doing so will speak volumes about how you truly are working to conquer your biases.
Inoculate yourself from bias-based behaviors. Preventing those same behaviors and showing true change can only be sustained by guarding yourself from those actions that contribute to these biases. For instance, you will need to be careful of accepting gifts to prevent being swayed by people you tend to favor. Insensitive jokes will not have a place to the one who is willing to change their biases for good. Also, talking ill of anyone with less than the respect you would want for yourself needs to be shunned as well. These and other behaviors will make us callous to those others whom we should be serving fairly.
At the end of it all bias is a choice. And while none of us can ever be perfectly without bias, we can make incredible strides to reign in our prejudices and not only change who we are, but also change the lives of others we have an obligation to serve.
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