Ever wonder repenting after doing something wrong with someone else like getting angry on trivial things, writing or speaking hateful word, condemning some action without logical reasons etc. If we are fully in-charge of our self, why we repent after doing things? Because many things which we do, we do without thinking consciously. Our sub-conscious acts before we finish our rational analysis, and our sub-conscious has many biases acquired during our childhood. These are called unconscious biases. Consciously we believe we are free but actually we all have unconscious biases towards others.
Below are some of the steps you can follow as a good way to begin fighting bias in yourself. It is taken from Blog “HOW STEREOTYPES AND BIASES CAN EVOLVE A PERSON.”
- Pay attention to how your bias shapes your environment
Eliminating the impact of bias in your life requires you to acknowledge that it exists in the first place. Acknowledging that you have unconscious bias is not admitting a moral failing—this is part of the human condition.
Start a campaign of self-awareness, paying attention to the subtle ways in which bias may be impacting your behavior. Ask yourself: Are there people at work I always ask for advice, and others I ignore? Who is part of my friend group, and who might be missing?
You can also take an inventory of whom you trust. Just off the top of your head, name the top few people you would call if you received bad news or great news. How are those people similar to or different from you? Most of us trust others who are similar to us in significant ways.
Lastly, take an inventory of the media you are consuming—including news, books, music, TV shows, and movies. Are their perspectives basically similar to yours? Are the characters or authors telling stories that represent a different context from your own?
Once we acknowledge our bias and begin to pay attention to how it impacts us, we will be ready to do the work to overcome it.
- Expose yourself to counter-stereotypical images
One of the most powerful ways to combat unconscious bias is to diversify the stories we encounter, so that we can connect with the humanity of people who may look and sound different to us. This means watching movies, reading books, or attending performances that target groups we are less familiar with.
It can also mean purposefully seeking inspiration from moral exemplars of different ethnicities, races, genders, and abilities. Studies have shown that being exposed to counter-stereotypical images and stories of people from other groups leads to less implicit bias.
My co-author, Tiffany Jana, shares a story in our book about how this worked for her. After a few negative experiences with Indian people in her workplace, she developed an unconscious bias against them, which she discovered later in her life was causing her to avoid all Indians. As she says:
It was not until I served on the board of directors for an innovative art gallery that my bias began to subside. I worked side-by-side with one of the most brilliant, engaging, and kind people I have ever known. My friend Prabir worked tirelessly to help the gallery become an East Coast destination and shape downtown Richmond, Virginia’s arts and culture scene. Five years of working toward the goal of bringing art to a great community alongside someone different from me changed my perspective and openness toward his entire demographic.
- Reach out across difference
We can also seek ways to connect with people who are different from us in our everyday lives, whether at work or in our personal life.
That means keeping your eyes open and looking for opportunities rather than waiting for them to fall into your lap. For example, when you go to a work or social event, don’t simply scan the crowd for people you already know; look for people you don’t know—who might seem different from you—and see if you can strike up a conversation. Simple contact can be a powerful way to combat bias.
I took this step in my own life by joining an African-American church. As the only white person there, I initially felt awkward, unaware of social norms, and unfamiliar with the style of worship. Over time, however, I formed deep and meaningful relationships that have lasted over a decade, long after I stopped attending that church. The proactive step of seeking to make myself a minority in an everyday part of my life paid off through helping me take off my cultural blinders and form relationships with people I would have never met otherwise.
- Ask, don’t assume; listen, don’t judge
Once you expand your comfort zone through building new relationships and consuming different media, it becomes easier to include more people in your own circles of trust. And research has shown that cross-group friendships can make a big difference in reducing prejudice and bias.
But how to create that trust? By learning to ask rather than assume, and to listen rather than judge. In this way, we can stop the disconnection that may arise through misunderstanding.
In psychologist Beverly Tatum’s excellent book on racial identity development, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? She writes about how a typical racial disconnect happens between grade-school friends at a very young age.
Imagine an African-American student has a negative interaction with a teacher, which she perceives as racially motivated. She shares this with her lifelong white friend, whose immediate response is, “That teacher is great; I’m sure she isn’t racist!” That is the moment, according to Tatum, when self-segregation begins and kids start to look for others who can understand and discuss their experiences.
The antidote to this disconnection is authentic listening and learning to ask meaningful questions. Your friend’s interpretation of her negative experience may not be correct—perhaps the teacher wasn’t being racist or sexist. But if your first reaction is to tell her she’s wrong before you even listen to her, you are driving a wedge between you.
To authentically connect with people across differences, you must suspend your own judgment long enough to actually hear their experiences. Ask open-ended questions and seek to understand rather than to challenge or convince.
As hard as it can feel to confront your unconscious biases, with motivation and effort these simple steps can set you down that path. And building authentic relationships across differences is an essential part of your journey.
To make the post short, some parts are edited.
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