Are Your Biases Preventing You From Seeing?

By Bryan Nadeau, PCC, CTC

Are your biases preventing you from seeing? Let’s begin with the definition of bias which is a particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned. Are your biases preventing you from seeing? If so what? We all have biases, some we are aware of and most we are not. It is time to take our blinders off and become more aware of our biases and their impact on decision making and leadership.

Psychology Today lists 12 common biases that affect how we make everyday decisions. A few are, confirmation bias, self-serving bias, and optimism/pessimism bias. Very Well Mind list their common cognitive biases. They include confirmation bias, observational selection bias, and bandwagon effect bias. Our biases can lead to making poor decision(s) or worse, to making the outright wrong decision. What are your biases preventing you from seeing? No matter which biases you might have, you can decrease their effect on you and your decision making by being aware of them. Here are a few biases and tips to counteract their effect.

Confirmation Bias

This bias involves relying on information that confirms our own beliefs and avoiding information that doesn’t. To counter this effect, don’t surround yourself just with people who will agree with you. Actively seek out others that will challenge your view, bring different approaches, perspectives.  Select a team member to play the devil’s advocate.

Self-Serving Bias

When things go right it is because of what we did, when things go wrong it is someone else’s fault. Catch yourself when you are thinking you did this all by yourself and step back, take in the circumstances and see where the truth is. While some things are accomplished just by ourselves, most though involve others. When things go wrong, again, step back and view the situation to find the learnings in what didn’t go well. Avoid blame or judgement.

Status Quo Bias 

Getting too comfortable with how we do things, thinking that change will make it worse. Change can be uncomfortable for everyone. Thinking, is the way we have always been doing things still the best way now, in 6 months, in 3 years? Challenge yourself and your team to really step out of your comfort zone and imagine, if we did it differently, what would that look like? Allow yourself and your team to devote time to this type of exercise because we are often in a rush to get things done.

Consensus Bias 

Thinking that everyone on your team thinks the way you do, or worse can read your mind, leads to wrongly assuming there is consensus. Effective, clear communication is the first step, then allowing the team to ask questions of you and each other, and lastly, confirming that everyone understands the decision or action and is on-board. 

Being aware of your biases is the first step. When you are feeling challenged or feeling like this is the best thing you have ever heard (or the worst), take your blinders off, step back, take a deep breath, then listen to what is being presented, ask questions, stay curious. When you have all the information required, then you can make a more informed and clear decision.

To explore how to reduce bias, and expand your leadership skills, contact Bryan for a consultation.