Break the bias

Imagine a world that is free of bias where difference is valued and celebrated. Liggy Webb explains how we can all make a positive contribution toward a more empathetic, inclusive, and equitable world.

To enable this kind of inclusive world we all need to be prepared to challenge and break the bias and this means raising awareness of what we think and how we behave towards other people.

Our brain can automatically make quick assessments and judgements and unconscious bias is a term that describes the associations we hold, outside our conscious awareness and control.

We can all make a difference and by doing whatever we can to break the bias, we can all make a positive contribution toward a more empathetic, inclusive, and equitable world.

Here are 5 suggestions

1. Expand your world view

Our world view is a framework of beliefs, values and attitudes which affects everything we perceive, think, feel, and do. As we evolve, we can become restricted by the boundaries of what we experience, so constantly expanding our world view will help us to be more inclusive and respect diversity.

Reading things that we don’t necessarily agree with or instigating conversations with people that challenge our perspective is a good place to start. Expanding our horizons by embracing new experiences will also help us to develop as well-rounded, balanced, and inclusive human beings. By keeping an open mind and open heart we will be able to constantly learn and grow. 

2. Put yourself in other people’s shoes

To really understand other people there is a very useful skill that can help called “perspective taking”. This is about consciously putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes and imagining what challenges they might be facing and how it could be making them feel, think and behave. By attempting to imagine what it would be like to experience what they are going through helps us to gain a better understanding of things from their point of view. These shared emotional experiences help us to relate to and gain a clearer perspective of the person’s situation.

3. Challenge your assumptions

We need to constantly be aware of and challenge our biases about people and stereotyping. We may well discover that many of the assumptions we make are based on erroneous information. Educating ourselves and listening to the groups that are affected by this misinformation is a really important place to start. This is especially important in a world that will thrive through empathy and embracing diversity and inclusivity. 

4. Really listen

Are you a good listener? We may well believe we are good listeners however in this hyper distracted world that we live in, it may well be that we need to assess how well we really listen. When we practise active listening, we are listening with purpose and with a deep desire to want to really hear what someone is saying. Taking the time to be present with a deep desire to want to understand another person’s priorities and motivations is a great place to start. To do this it is important to stay focused and use active listening skills to gain insight. Examples of active listening can be paraphrasing to demonstrate understanding as well as using non-verbal cues such as nodding, eye contact and leaning forward. Brief verbal affirmations can also help to encourage people to be more open and share what is on their mind and how they feel.

5. Be curious

Being interested in other people, especially people that we may know nothing about and who are outside of our immediate social and cultural circle is an important way to break bias. Being curious enables us to seek out challenges and new experiences so that we can broaden our horizons. Curiosity is the gateway to wisdom and life is never dull for a curious person with a growth mindset. Being curious rather than judgmental about people is a great place to start and finding people we meet interesting can be the catalyst for some great conversations. Remember, everyone we meet in our life knows something we don’t so let the adventure begin …

 

Have a bias toward action – let’s see something happen now.

You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away | Indira Ghandi

Sarah Burrell

About Liggy Webb

Liggy Webb is an award-winning and bestselling author, presenter and international consultant specialising in behavioural skills. She’s recognised as a thought leader on resilience and behavioural agility and works with a wide range of businesses, helping people to be more resilient, agile and healthy in a volatile, uncertain and highly complex world. 

Some of the organisations that Liggy works with include the BBC, the NHS, Macmillan Cancer Support, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. 

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