How To Better Understand Your Biases & The Biases of Others

April 7, 2022

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What is one way to effectively understand your own biases and the biases of others?

To help you with understanding both your own biases and the biases of others, we asked Eller College of Management Alumni and business leaders this question for their best insights. From being open minded to implementing strategies to improve self-awareness, there are several tips  that may help you understand both yours and other individuals’ biases.  

Here are 9 tips for understanding your own biases and the biases of others: 

  • Be Open Minded
  • Have a Bias Towards Action
  • Eliminate Toxic Behaviors to Breed Cohesion 
  • Participate in Intentional Self-Reflection
  • Focus On the Platinum Rule
  • Beat Biases With the Discovery Mindset
  • Understand Your Bias With Those Around You
  • Use Courage as the Accelerator
  • Implement Strategies to Improve Self-Awareness

Be Open Minded

Understand that we all come to situations with natural biases from our experiences and upbringing. Be open minded and hear others out. Don't be quick to judge or respond, but rather work to listen and understand the other person's opinion. Work to actively include others in conversations and interactions. Welcome diversity and equity in all you do. 

Alison Stine, B.S. Finance ‘13, Stine Wealth Management

Have a Bias Towards Action

If there is one bias I have learned from my time serving in the military- it's a bias towards action. Decision making in up tempo circumstances is needed and often the negative effects of not deciding are more detrimental than making the wrong decision.

Joseph Romani, MBA ‘22, Chewy

Eliminate Toxic Behaviors to Breed Cohesion

A bias is a tendency to favor people or ideas that cause a person to act in a way that displays distinguished favoritism. Biases can show up as a favoritism in culture, self-interest groups, or for loved ones, and can create division among team members. Identifying behaviors and eliminating bias attached to these behaviors is proof of sound decision making and leadership.

Areale Hanks, MBA ‘22, Forbes | Footwear & Co.

Participate in Intentional Self-Reflection

One way to understand and eliminate biases is to practice intentional self-reflection.  Oftentimes after an encounter, we just move to the next without taking the time to check in with ourselves and ask appropriate questions, such as "Did I handle that situation correctly?" By being intentional and allowing time after interactions to reflect we can address biases and improve our understanding of them.

Jacy Woodruff, MBA ‘21, KPMG, LLC US

Focus on the Platinum Rule

As a recent graduate of the Mini-MBA in Healthcare, we discussed “implicit bias” and how to potentially mitigate it in our organizations. It is important for leaders in healthcare to focus on  these mitigation strategies in order to provide better and more equitable care to our patients. Awareness and action are key throughout our respective areas of influence and not accepting the status quo when we know there is a problem. One of the most important first steps to this implementation is to focus on empathy, or to attempt to put yourself in others' shoes to have a better understanding of what they are feeling. We’ve all heard of the Golden Rule, how you want to be treated but what about the Platinum Rule, which focuses on treating people how they want to be treated. Let’s start with this and see where we can go together!

Troy Brown, Mini-MBA in Healthcare, Defense Health Agency

Beat Biases With the Discovery Mindset

One way to understand your own biases and the biases of others is by committing to live with a discovery mindset. It requires you to recognize when something is different from what you would typically choose and look at it as an opportunity to discover a unique strategy. Of course, you must welcome momentary discomfort for the sake of long-term gain. But, in the end, this mindset leads to recognizing biases and opens you up to cultivate inclusion, gain more buy-in, and a stronger, more unified team.

Marshelle Barwise, High Impact Leadership Certification ‘19, Marshelle Barwise

Understand Your Bias With Those Around You

In the workplace, there are many biases, most that are unconscious and lead to negative association to your workplace as well as your peers / clients. I believe one of the best ways to overcome these biases is to confront a trusted peer and talk through your thoughts. When you are able to express your unconscious opinion with a trusted colleague or friend, just the act of speaking out loud helps you identify the bias. Once you are able to identify, then you can move forward at overcoming them. One positive thing about this approach is that while talking to someone else, you are given the ability to broaden your viewpoint and educate one another while working towards positive change. Everyone has different viewpoints, different biases, and different opinions, and we can't all overall move forward if we aren't willing to share!

Danielle Border, B.A. Marketing & Global Business ‘19, Focus Search Partners

Use Courage as the Accelerator

We must be courageous. Value courage, embrace courage, request courage – and be human through it all. While that may appear to be significant, and perhaps complex, it is a settling of the mind and recognition of opportunity. Bias is an unconscious posture. And easier to identify in others. The first step of courage occurs within us. Asking ourselves questions of: Why do I believe this? What did my family and community tell me about myself? What do I believe about others? Why? And of course, allowing grace and space to learn. If we center people … center humanity, in our search for understanding and bias identification – we can truly be transformational.

Toya Del Valle, MBA ‘12, Cornerstone OnDemand

Implement Strategies to Improve Self-Awareness

It is often difficult to be aware of your own biases. By implementing strategies to improve self-awareness for yourself and others, you can effectively understand biases. One important strategy you can implement today is feedback. Make feedback easier to give and receive, and be open to it. Once you give or receive feedback, reflect on it and write it down. You don’t have to write down everything, but consider writing down the things that might have the most impact on yourself and others now and into the future.

Allan Switalski, LendThrive


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