Managing Unnamed Biases

Managing Unnamed Biases

“I think unconscious bias is one of the hardest things to get at.” ~Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I visited a retail store last week, an irregular experience given my current status as an island dweller.

A young man approached as I entered and asked if he could help me with anything.

Named Rand, he was tall and lanky and I put him somewhere in his twenties. He was personable and patient and answered all my questions.

When I went to pay for my purchase, I made a point of telling the equally friendly man behind the cash register—who I guessed to be mid-forties—how helpful the staff was.

“Are you the manager?”  I asked him.

“No,” he replied, “I just work here.”

Having once been a retail buyer, and having a client-facing focus, I like to let managers know when their folks have made a difference in my shopping experience; I grabbed one of the business cards on the counter with an intent to e-mail a positive review and stuck it in my pocket.

We finished the transaction and I left, but not before waving to Rand and thanking him again.

And that was the extent of my interaction and my thinking, until two days later when I fished the card from the back pocket of my jeans.

The manager’s card.

And the name on it read, “Rand.”

I realized in that instant a hitherto unconscious bias: age equates to knowledge and positions of perceived authority/leadership.

I had assumed the older gentleman ran the place solely based on his age/appearance.

So, I went back to that store.

I went back to that store and fessed up. And thanked that young man again.

This time, it was for a better reason than simply being nice while he helped me; it was for helping me help myself.

One more blind spot revealed, an insight that will last a lot longer than any retail purchase.

We don’t know what we don’t know until we know it.

But when we do? It’s cause for celebration.

“Fortunately for serious minds, a bias recognized is a bias sterilized.” ~Benjamin Haydon



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About
Cynthia Barlow

Founder Cynthia Barlow

Facilitator, Author, Coach

Helping businesses build their people

When your people have the skills to communicate more effectively, they can connect more easily and collaborate more productively. Not only on the job, but also in life.

Communication, Connection, and Collaboration—the three “C’s”—are the cornerstones of all successful businesses. They are the result of Emotional Intelligence in action.

More details can be found in my recent best seller with co-author Jennifer Eggers:
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“If you  want to build more resilience intentionally—personally and professionally—read this book.
~
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