We like to think that we’re unbiased, but as 3C Contact Services, the leading provider of outsourced call center services, tells their partners, they may just have unconscious biases that are holding them back from achieving success or advancing further in their careers.
However, there are steps that you can take to eliminate these biases, even if they’re on a subconscious level:
Is there a food you automatically assume you’ll hate? The same could be said for your co-workers or the people they associate with. You also know what they say: you don’t know if you’ll like something until you try it. Try to get to know your co-workers; you may just discover they aren’t as bad as you thought they were.
On the other hand, assuming that a person is capable of being a valuable member of the team because they handled a situation is a good bias to have. This can extend to everyone on your team and expecting the best of them.
Of all the biases you can have, this is the worst. Instead of not liking someone because you never got to know them, you automatically dislike them because another person on the team does, never once getting to know them.
There are steps you can take to get over these biases. First, reflect on why you feel this way and then confront either the person or your own perceptions. If a co-worker is trying to influence your opinion of this person, ask them why they dislike them so much.
You can also take a big step towards changing by confronting the co-worker you have a bias against. Get to know them over lunch or even coffee; you may just discover your biases or the ones your co-workers held are completely off-base.
Commit to improving your relationship with your co-workers and maintain your improved relationship. If you feel the old biases starting to creep back in again, remember that you got to know this person better and know that they’re a good person.
And to clear the air with the co-worker with the bias, find out why they feel that way. Explain you’ve gotten to know them and they were wrong about the other person. If nothing else, tensions between co-workers can sap morale. Discuss where their bias is coming from and make an effort to change it.
Finally, 3C Contact Services warns you not to assume that an employee you have a good bias for is infallible. They will make mistakes; they’re human, after all. This will save you a lot of disappointment down the road when they make the inevitable slip-up.