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Maximillian staff photo - the image shows Maximillian in front of some trees outdoors and smiling.
June 28, 2022
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We all like to think that we are fair, and that we see things in the world clearly. Today’s blog, however, is about the times when we don’t get it right. Bias. When we don’t realise that we’re looking at things from a particular angle, why it’s not our fault and what we might be able to do about it.


Acquiring bias.

As people, we acquire biases throughout our lives, and we are often completely unaware of them. Some biases are based on our experiences, others are about us comparing people who are like us to those who are not.*

We don’t have choice or agency around what influences us, especially at a young age when these influences are most impactful.

What we do have, however, as adults, is the faculty for reasoning and unlearning them.


Noticing bias.

Knowing that a bias is there can often be the hardest part.

Sometimes a bias comes up when we disagree with something but have no reason to evidence for what we believe. Other times bias might come up when we speak with someone and they point out that something we have said is problematic or suggests something that we did not mean.


Reflection and change.

Once we know a bias is there, there are some steps that we can take to change things.

First, I always advise that people sit and have a think about what it feels like to us – both realising or being called out on it, and knowing that we hold this particular view of a group of people. This can often be the hardest part of the process. We need to be kind to ourselves, but also to start changing our minds.

Initial actions we can take may include thinking, research, and talking to people within that group or community (with permission) about their experiences. For a model of what the research might look like, please see my blog on learning more here.

Once we start to understand them, we can then pause in conversations that we would have jumped straight into before to think through what we were going to say.

Over time, these internal corrections become easier, or even automatic. We start to replace some of our previous thinking, or at least make the link in our minds so that when we think the bias, we near instantly think the response with no effort.


Ongoing process.

Everyone lives with bias (even if we haven’t noticed them!) so let’s all be kinds to one another, gently offer corrections and insights to others, and try to notice and challenge our own. This in itself is an act of allyship with whichever group each bias is about.


Speaking of learning more about groups you may have a bias against, we offer corporate, SME, and individual training, and we’re always looking for volunteers open to self-reflection.

I hope we hear from some of you soon!

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