Newsletter #5: Run towards your biases
Hi there 👋
🎥 Picture this: you’re on your way to the airport, running late for a flight. You’re in the car, you jump out with your luggage, make it to your gate, and scan your boarding pass with not a second to spare. See yourself walking onto the plane to be greeted by your pilot, who comes out from the cockpit to say hello. You land later and find yourself eating the best meal you’ve had in a long time (and really do visualize this one, calories don’t exist in visualizing!). You notice a lovely couple next to you celebrating their anniversary, and you smile to yourself before heading to the world’s largest tech conference. As you take your seat, the CEO of the conference’s hottest tech start-up appears on stage to begin their speech.
Now, a few quick questions:
Was the pilot black?
Was that lovely couple to next you a same-sex relationship?
Did you envision the tech CEO as female?
⚠️ INCOMING BIAS ALERT ⚠️
Odds are, you answered “no” to one or all of those questions. No matter how much you may love the idea of these, when confronted with them, your brain doesn’t like what it deems as unfamiliar.
In other words, you’re holding onto implicit biases. We know the necessity for diversity, along with the consequences biases have in our workplace, but what do we do about the fact that our brain automatically associates people or professions with certain attributes?
Biases are not inherently a bad thing. Biases have evolved as an evolutionary process, which historically sought to protect us from the threats of the world and ensure the survival of our species. But now, biases alter our perceptions of the world and the people we’re surrounded by, often in a negative way.
So what real, actionable actions can one take to begin addressing these biases to reform our, often limiting, view of the world?
Instead of running away from biases, confront them and engage with your discomfort. Here are actionable steps as to how:
⭕️ Take inventory, expand your circle. Are the closest people to you all of the same race, age, or sex? Who's missing? Get analytical with it.
🤝 Ask yourself: How many authentic relationships do I have with those who are majorly different than myself?
👀 Form valuable relationships that allow you to see the holistic person and go against the stereotypes of what you believe that person to be. For example, perhaps you’ve been nervous to talk to a colleague half your age, despite knowing you share similar political stances or hobbies. What’s stopping you?
💘 Make genuine connections with those nothing like you. Maybe you’ve been shy to start a connection with that co-worker. Try sharing something vulnerable with them, if “that's awkward!” remember it’s simply about connection, not perfection.
Try to remember, you're not going to get comfortable before you get uncomfortable!
Higher levels of emotional intelligence are developed when we begin to break down these bias barriers that hold us back. Empathy and compassion are formed through relationships with those different than you. Those people you often view as different often might have more in common with you than you realize.
When we begin to question the lens through which we view the world, something powerful happens: you start to realize people are just like you. They’re a part of your life, they're your family, friends, coworkers. At this moment we cease to become bystanders and become better actors, we become advocates, then become allies.
Learning to acknowledge our biases is only step one, reshaping our thoughts to question the validity of these biases is the larger and more crucial step. Overcoming biases is a lifelong pursuit, which requires constant attention and question.
Want more? 🎦 In this video, explore bias in the workplace and what diversity can offer.
Reflection question of the week 🤔
How will I better connect with someone outside of my own demographic this week?
As always, please let us know if you have any feedback about our newsletter - we'd love to get your perspective and make it as helpful as possible.
Know someone else who you think would love our newsletter? Get them to sign up here.
Go ahead, get out of your comfort zone, and get to know somebody different than you today!