Recognizing Hidden Biases

Everyone has hidden biases. Often we don’t recognize them because they sneak into our minds when we’re not paying attention. Similar to more overt biases, they surface when triggered by particular stimuli.

Example: I met with a new client who was convinced that feedback she had received was inaccurate. After asking a few questions, it was clear that she had some misconceptions about the person who provided the feedback. By dismissing the feedback (because of her hidden bias about the source), she missed some insight that was beneficial for her.

This situation was remedied through our discussion. It gives pause, though, about how often this happens and how we “miss” things because those hidden biases block the way. Employee feedback is just one example. Consider the following:

+ Business development. You choose not to call on a particular prospect because you’re convinced that the company won’t buy from you. One of your previous outreaches was rebuffed so you leaped to the conclusion that there are no opportunities at this company.

+ Getting out of your comfort zone. You avoid taking on certain assignments because you think you’re not good at doing them. Is there any basis to this opinion or is a hidden bias surfacing (“I’m not good at doing xyz”).

+ You resist managing because it’s too much work. You’re right – it is a lot of work, but if you let your staff manage themselves, you’re going to pay the price down the road. Think about what your real issue is about managing, and odds are that a hidden bias is at the root.

It’s a good idea to have someone help you unpack hidden biases. For now, when you experience resistance, jot down what happened and how you resisted. Look for patterns. Being self-aware will help you identify them, but it’s up to do to take action to counteract them.

Have a great day!​​​​​​

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *