I prefer walking to running, gin to beer and classical to heavy rock. We all have preferences. I also know that I have to be careful not to make assumptions about people who attended particular schools, or make particular lifestyle choices. These are biases really, rather than preferences, and I have to make sure these don’t affect how I treat other people.
We all have conscious and unconscious biases. Number eight on the #22WaysToBeConsciouslyInclusiveIn2022 is one that we can all have a go at, whether we work or not. I challenge you to get to know your preferences and biases.
Here’s some ideas how:
1. Try to catch yourself making assumptions about people or situations. Assumptions can be closely related to biases so it’s worth keeping any eye on these and challenging any that you catch yourself making.
2. Be honest with yourself about any positive or negative thoughts you have about people based on e.g. appearance, job situation, accent, gender (or anything else). Some people might feel guilt or shame at this point but the important point is that you are consciously examining and challenging yourself. Once you know what those biases are, you can watch for situations where they might affect your decision making.
3. You could consider trying to find out more about the biases you don’t know that you have. One way of doing this is using what’s called an IAT – an implicit assumption test. You can find examples of the Harvard one at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html (best completed on a laptop). Bear in mind there is some debate about how valid these tests are, so best used to reflect on as to whether there is any truth in it rather than to accept the result without question.
It’s important to understand your own assumptions, preferences and biases so as to be able to mitigate against their effects in decision making.