Confronting Your Own Biases (Part Two) - Soul Couch Lesson

Confronting Your Own Biases (Part Two) - Soul Couch Lesson

  In part one of this lesson, we showed you some basic examples of Bias. We showed you what to look for and how to uncover your personal bias. Now that you have a personal awareness of your bias it is time to learn how to confront it.

  First, in order to confront your bias, you need to continue what was worked on in part one. The continual growth and uncovering of your subconscious will allow you to identify and confront your bias more effectively. "Learning to embrace diverse perspectives may feel challenging at first, but making a conscious effort will help. Change – of any kind – is uncomfortable. The most important thing you can do as a leader is to prepare for that discomfort. Every phase of your leadership journey will require that you take time to introspect and emerge more self-aware. That is what will allow you to grow and flourish." - HBR
The first step in confronting your bias is identifying your bias. Understand your own cultural lens. "We all have a culture. We've all been taught about what's important, what’s beautiful, how to act, how to think, what's valuable… and even who’s valuable. All of that creates a cultural lens that impacts how we see the world and how we interpret every single dynamic and relationship." -

  Our natural styles of communication and expression of our emotions are shaped by our cultural norms. Our cultural norms affect everything we do from our way of speaking, to fashion, and beliefs. Identifying this appropriately and not in conjunction with stereotypes is a good way to know your standards. Define what standards you keep for yourself and what appropriate standards are for people around you (just don't stay too solidified in these standards, growth is change).

  Next, our goal is to examine and combat unconscious biased thinking. "One of the most important things we can do to counter our biases is to be conscious and intentional. Get out of denial. Go look for your bias. Get humble. When you see it in yourself, slow down and ask: What assumptions and judgments am I making about this person? Based on what? How am I making this decision? What meaning am I making of this data? Am I only selecting for the data that confirms what I already think I know? What am I missing? Should I ask someone else what they notice? ".

  Recognizing that our brains naturally try to find the quickest route to information is vital. Many of our biased beliefs stem from this alone. Recognizing this and being humble will allow you to be okay with the knowledge that you have unconscious bias, perfection is not the goal.

  Seeing bias in others and the environment can be stressful and can even lead to very high-stress conflicts. Racism for example is a very explosive topic about the racial and ethnic bias many races go through in our modern world. Being empathetic through these times is the best course of action. Remember that it is not your job to make the other party believe your bias. It is your job to be accepting of others' biases while still recognizing your own.

  Getting out of your comfort zone and being inclusive is the best way to change your perspectives and uncover some internal biases. Again, Challenge yourself in more ways than one, not everything's about strength or grit. It takes a boy to travel to a remote place and enjoy himself. It takes a man to be in an unfamiliar place with different people and still feel comfortable. Expanding your network or "bubble" is vital to growth and success.

  Lastly, we will discuss how to confront bias without alienating or aggravating people in the process. Confronting bias can be a very tricky thing. A response that points out falsity or ignorance will result in the other party becoming defensive or angry. Not pointing out the bias can result in harmless statements and comments that pile up to create the structured forms of discrimination we see today. So how do we confront bias when we see it?

  Confronting bias depends heavily on your environment. It may be much easier to tell your friend they are wrong rather than the owner of the company at your workplace. It is important to keep in mind that no matter what environment you are in, it is never acceptable to shame someone for their understanding or beliefs. This is because naming, shaming, or blaming people will “automatically put them on the defensive,” says Alexis McGill Johnson, the co-founder and executive director of Perception Institute. This often produces a fight or flight response and anything other than a fight would result in the other party becoming defensive and unmanageable.

  "According to Johnson, in most instances, people make biased statements at an unconscious level. When that happens in the workplace, it’s important to understand, first and foremost, the kind of culture that you’re dealing with. Is it the kind of workplace where people are comfortable calling out each other’s biases in a respectful way? Because if it’s not, then the responsibility is up to company leaders to create that kind of environment, Johnson stresses." - fast company

  Addressing bias in the workplace can be even more challenging as now you a provide significant risk in your decisions. Saying something the wrong way could result in you losing your job after all. The most important thing is to evaluate the nature of your relationship with that person, and what you hope your ultimate goal to be. "Good managers understand that emotional and psychological safety are two key components to productivity in the workplace. The key is to “describe the bias without attacking the person,” Johnson says, and with the mindset that bias is a “human condition, rather than a personal flaw.” - fast company

  When confronting bias with friends or family it is much easier to fall short on how we approach a situation. It is easier for us to be more aggressive with our speech or tone as we know this person well. Shaming is most seen in the social circles amongst teens and colleagues. "Engaging in a difficult conversation with family and friends also requires you to think about the nature of your relationship, and what you want to accomplish by calling out their bias.

  With family and friends, it’s likely that you have common ground on many issues, even when you disagree with each other. That way, when you start the dialogue, “you’re coming from a place of shared values,” says Johnson. The idea is to see the “biased statement as an opportunity to build a bridge, rather than to break it.” This requires asking them questions about why and how they came to the position they did, which creates opportunities for them to provide context and history. The important thing, Johnson says, is not to lecture them." - fast company

  "Ultimately, Johnson believes that talking about bias and discrimination requires a commitment from both parties to provide a safe space for conversation. Both parties need to adopt the “failing fast” mindset, Johnson says, because in these conversations, mistakes are inevitable. To move forward, we need to learn to have to “reset conversations so that people aren’t worried about being perceived as biased, but are instead focused on growing where the challenges might be.” - fast company

  When confronting bias with others or even yourself it is important to be aware of yourself and the situation and to act with tact and humility. Showing someone their wrong shouldn't be your motivation. Your motivation should be showing someone a better way. Please do note that in the case of social bias and others, not everyone is willing to be respectful of your point or learn something new, do not try to imprint your ideas on another.

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