We have lived in a society that feeds on prejudice. All of us, at some point in life, have come to conclusions about people we don’t know based on what we see and hear about them. While a few of us acknowledge that this is wrong, a great majority doesn’t. There are plenty of people talking about that great majority but I am going to talk about the few of us who realise the wrongness and still choose to do it anyway!
We convince ourselves that we are good people and we choose to be good people. While this seems like a noble thing, it is actually the root cause of problem. Because the first step to solving problems is to acknowledge their existence. This set of people want to be unbiased and unprejudiced when faced with a new person and/or situation but somehow that subconscious bias overrides their ‘wants’ and they come to a conclusion.
So, here’s a system you can employ to overcome bias:
1. Acknowledge the bias
You need to understand that if you intend on solving the problem, you have to first choose to see the problem. Recognising bias doesn’t make you a bad person. Sometimes we lean on biases we didn’t even know we had and that causes us to question our beliefs. So, make an active effort to understand your perspective instead of denying it.
“Stop trying to be good people, and be real people” – Vernā Myers
2. Speak about it even if it makes you uncomfortable
This is important, if you truly want to improve then you have to speak about it, be open to learning and being challenged by learned folks. Speak about it, seek help and choose to be better than before. It is no shame to reach out and ask for help. Try to get more people talking and if they are struggling with same issues, help them get over theirs as well. Do not run away from conversations, which are necessary simply because you’re uncomfortable.
3. Move forward with it
After you have understood what biases you have, then move forward carrying them and try to change. When you are trying to understand how your bias system works, you can tell you mind when it is doing something wrong. And repeatedly being told what is wrong will make your brain believe; because that is how bias is formed in the first place — repetition! This will work far better than being in denial about the bias and being biased. Make a conscious effort to bring a change in the way your brain jumps to conclusions you don’t want to!