A book is more than its cover, and a person is more than their human exterior. We know this at a conscious level, however, below the surface of our consciousness are biases that often go undetected.
We all them because biases are a part of our human hardwiring. Behavior scientists believe bias are a human survival mechanism. Not all biases are bad. They are there to serve and protect us. However, the trouble is the human brain has evolved to make snap decisions based on making sense of what we see in the blink of an eye.
Anything we see that is unfamiliar or different is often perceived to be a threat.
The first step to overcoming and neutralizing biases is acknowledging that they exist.
We cannot eradicate our biases, but with self-awareness we don’t have to be victims to snap judgements that get in the way our our higher intelligence.
Left unchecked, biases lead to blindspots that get in the way of building authentic relationships.
Biases are passed from generation to generation. We are shaped more than we can imagine by the context in which we live. People can only teach what they know. This is why it is important to break the bias cycle by continuing to learn and evolve past human survival mechanisms that no longer serve us.
We are the solution to our own biases. If we stop often enough to take personal inventory of what we believe and why we believe it we can overcome our problematic biases.
Three keys to overcoming biases.
Have authentic relationships with people who think differently than you do – Agreement is not a prerequisite to authenticity. We need only to open our hearts and minds to respectful and honest communication, and seek to expand our empathy and understanding of people whose lives are different than our own. Differences people cannot control or change are the biases we really need to watch out for.
Look for opportunities to expand your horizons – We must realize that our perspective is not the only perspective. The more contact we have with the world and its diversity, the broader our perspective will be.
Ask and don’t assume – Assumptions and stereotypes are biases that can destroy relationships. Cultivate curiosity. It’s very difficult to be judgement and curious at the same time. Seek to understand. Meet people where they are without preconceived notions. Everyone has been shaped by a story we know nothing about.
Get to know your biases
Without judging yourself, notice how often you formulate opinions about total strangers. What did you notice
Pay attention to your reactions to what other people say. Are there any hidden biases in your reactions?
Take a moment to distinguish one or two assumptions from facts and journal about the possible origin of of the assumption(s).