The Invisible Power of Bias

The other day, I was checking into a hotel pretty late in the night. Next morning, I was scheduled to speak to a group of CEOs right around 8am next morning. In my mind, I was calculating the time it would take me to get set up for tomorrow, probably rehearse on a couple of new things that I had added to my presentation, go through the attendee list and their backgrounds once again. Yes, there were a dozen things going on in my mind.

The person at the hotel desk, let’s call him Joe was very nice and wanted to strike a conversation. After the pleasantries, his first real remark was – “I guess you are a programmer, right?”

While finishing the paperwork, I looked at him, smiled and said, “Your guess is perfect.”

I could have had a conversation about my journey that started pretty much as a programmer and continued for close to a decade and then…

But I didn’t not because I didn’t want to but because I just didn’t have the time.

The result: Unintentionally, I confirmed Joe’s bias about people like me. So, the story continues.

Bias in simple terms is any kind of prejudice or pre-judgment for or against a person or a thing. It’s hard to detect sometimes because it’s so deep that it’s not even a belief. It is the TRUTH for you

You and I both have our own biases on more than one topics. We both are not the only culprits. Look around you can be guaranteed that everyone around you is guilty as charged.

However, you may not have thought deeply about how much your bias rules your decision making especially when it comes to judging people and ideas from those people. It colors your experience so much that it’s hard to see reality with a heavy dose of bias.

When you are biased and you find something that does not conform with your bias, your quick reaction will be that the present situation is an exception. In reality, having a bias is the exception. Bias unfortunately hurts both parties – the other person in the short-term and you in the long-term.

Being aware is the first step

Like many things in life, bringing things to the surface and being aware of them is that very first step to solve the problem. In fact, it’s a BIG step. By bringing bias to the forefront, you are first acknowledging that it’s a bias, not the TRUTH or not even a belief. You will probably now have a chance to catch yourself when your experience is getting colored.

Talking about your bias is the next step

This requires a LOT more courage because you are exposing something that people usually keep to themselves. You will be amazed how many of your biases will be shattered the moment you start talking about them. It’s like you calling out on yourself.

Asking others to talk about their bias is the last step

You can do that at least with people that are your close friends. When others talk about their bias, you will notice some more of your biases coming out of the woodwork. Those that had transformed into deeply held beliefs and TRUTHS

All the best!