President Trump’s frequent accusations of “fake news” and journalists admonishments that we, consumers of news, don’t employ enough variety in our news sources are both examples of bias…beliefs firmly held, but slanted.
While we bemoan the bias others exhibit, we seldom acknowledge the bias we possess…we are, indeed, biased on most topics.
On the surface there’s nothing wrong with bias. Most of us feel that we should have beliefs and be true to these beliefs. The problem comes when we close our minds to alternative ways of thinking.
Beliefs and bias
To Trump, any news that doesn’t align with his beliefs is fake news. Journalists from top news sources believe that they do a better job of filtering out noise and getting to the facts than “news” that comes out of blogs and social media messages. My bias is that I believe that the vast majority of today’s “journalists” are sensationalists, not fact finders.
Bias causes us to embrace anything that affirms our beliefs (thereby reenforcing them) and reject anything that’s contrary to our beliefs…without the benefit of critical analysis.
That’s where the danger lies…in our unwillingness to critically examine our own thinking, our own beliefs. My media bias requires me to continuously ask myself “Why am I unhappy with what’s being reported? Is it my personal bias? Or is there legitimacy to what’s being reported that I simply don’t like?”
That seems like hard work. It can be, until you train your mind to think that way automatically. How do you do that?
Retrain your brain
Be consistent in examining your own thinking. After a sales call, a meeting with a client or having presented a program, I reflect on what happened. I pay attention to what garnered people’s attention, interest and acceptance.
Then I examine what didn’t go well…instances when I lost their interest, when they objected to what I was saying…as well as the questions they asked.
Lost interest and objections are reasons for me to reexamine my beliefs. If others hold differing beliefs, they, in my mind, warrant objective exploration. In other words, I’m exploring with the intent of discovering whether my current beliefs overlook important information.
It’s this critical analysis that makes the time spent one of the best investments I make. You’ll be amazed at how little time it takes to mentally review a conversation with using this approach. Hour or longer conversations can be condensed to 10 to 15 minutes when you look for only those instances of acceptance and resistance. The rest of the conversation is noise.
Another thing that helps me in my analysis is that I’m always looking for incongruities between what I’m hearing and what I’m observing. For in this disparity lies important information…the information that well help me gain a more thorough understanding of whatever I’m examining.
Note: In this process I always examine first what went well because awareness of success makes it easier for me to be objective in my analysis of the instances when I lost the other person’s interest or got resistance. Questions they ask help me understand what I’m failing to communicate so that I can be more effective in the future.
Now that you’re aware that:
- We are all biased.
- Bias causes us to perpetuate mistaken beliefs.
- You can train your mind to be more objective.
It’s time to put that information to work for you. Become consistent in replaying conversations using the process outlined above. In doing so you’ll train your mind to automatically challenge everything you see, hear and believe objectively…and more quickly than you imagine possible. That’s how you avoid the dangers of bias.
We can’t completely rid ourselves of bias, but by retraining our brains we can quickly identify our own biases and deal with them effectively in a matter of seconds.
For our kids
Help your kids realize that they too are biased. Teach them how to use the process outlined above. Live the message so that the kids in your life can see for themselves how effective it really is.