The events of the past few months have put bias or potential bias front and center in the American consciousness. In its extreme, bias becomes an -ism. Absolutism. Sexism. Racism. Agism. Name your -ism. These extremes can lead to discrimination, fear and, at times, tragedy. We have seen this with our own eyes too many times.
Before we say, I’m not a biased person, stop. The truth is we all have biases. It’s part of being human. They can be biases we are conscious of or biases that are subconscious. We aren’t really aware of them until someone points it out.
For most of us, most of our biases never rise to a level of -ism. Still, they impact our perceptions and decision-making. You may have a bias for action. What impact does that create? You are probably great at getting things done. However, does that bias also cause you, at times, to not spend enough time planning and then you or someone else ends up having to do a lot of rework? Or maybe, you have a bias for only hiring people who have a certain degree from a certain school. That bias is probably the result of having very positive experiences with people you hired with that profile. However, could it also be causing you to miss out on some other great hires? Do you have a bias for experience when listening to ideas or suggestions from others? Rightly so, wisdom can come with experience. However, those who are new to the situation see it with fresh eyes and their insights can be just what you need to hear.
Bias in the extreme is an ugly part of our human existence. However, its more benign forms impact us every day.