Are you feeling stressed these days? I sure am. The weather is weird, the virus is lurking, the political climate fraught with tension, and, to top all that off, most of our relationships are cultivated virtually.
Well, this article probably won’t make you feel much better, but it will alert you to a danger that is lurking within all this stress, one that probably won’t come as a surprise:
When we are stressed, we are more apt to make distorted decisions based on our unconscious biases.
There is, we must admit, a primitive sort of logic to this mechanism. After all, when time is short and the pressure on, we need to made decisions fast and what better way to do that than trust what our unconscious so conveniently shoots into our brain? That trust may be convenient and, therefore, tempting, but convenient isn’t the same as accurate.
Think, for example, of the damage one of these stress-induced biases can have on your ability to make the correct hiring decision or to know how best to motivate a team member who is struggling to succeed. Scary, isn’t it?
So, what can you do to minimize the danger of a stress-induced bias preventing you from functioning at your best?
The answer is simple: Pause
Yes, take a beat, walk around the block, get a cup of coffee, put the breaks on. This may seem simplistic, but it is supported by, for example, research out of the University of Toronto. That research shows that even a few seconds of delay before making a decision can cause the rational brain (that’s the bias-free you) to overcome that pesky bias.
Will the stress go away? Probably not, but your bias just might.
The material in this post reflects the ideas expressed in Dr. Thiederman’s book 3 Keys to Defeating Unconscious Bias and in the training videos Defeating Unconscious Bias: 5 Strategies and Gateways to Inclusion: Turning Tense Moments into Productive Conversations.
Sondra Thiederman can be contacted for in-person presentations, virtual facilitation, and panel participation by clicking here or calling 619-583-4478. For additional information, go to www.thiederman.com.
© copyright 2021 Sondra Thiederman, Ph.D.
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