Overcoming Bias

The book Overcoming Bias was a eye opener in a way that I personally did not expect. I was and am among those the book listed who even when they try to be aware of their bias can unintentionally create new ones. Some of my favorite parts of the book were actually in the introduction. To start off, the authors immediately address someone not everyone brings to mind. the statement “Human Bias is a fact of life”. Not many understand that. Those who don’t understand I believe to be in the group that don’t believe they have any bias in them. From a personal stand point from my job of a customer service representative for a luxury car brand that also sells preowned vehicles (Radley Cadillac), I come into contact with a wide variety of people. Although we are trained to not have a bias opinion of people we are also “trained” to be able to make a base judgement of customers. After reading Overcoming Bias I now see how truly thin the line of distinction is between the two.

Furthering my application to my job, a second statement found in the introduction which is later address and explained in chapter 4, “Privilege is not a dirty word; it is simply something that works in our favor, an advantage of sorts”. When i think of privilege I specifically think of wealth within the family. I specifically think of this because with working in a luxury brand company and being a 20 year old student supporting herself and putting herself through college, I can not afford to drive a new vehicle, let alone a luxury one. I can’t even afford majority of the preowned vehicles on our lot yet I assist in helping customers find these brand new, shiny and incredibly expensive vehicles (some amounting to the cost of multiple semesters of tuition) for their children who are much younger than me, not working multiple jobs or thrift shopping to find a decent pair of shoes I could appropriately wear to work. In my eyes, I see these children as privileged and in result, have a negative bias to these teenagers who never actually did anything to me and were simply born into the situation. Who am i to know these teens are the way i think they are. Much like chapter 4 says, “Generally speaking, privilege blinds you to the challenges that others face”. My blinding privilege can be the fact that I have worked hard, by myself to further my independence that has created a blinding bias towards those more well endowed.

Activity #1 was humorous to me because the first suggested person to give your word association to was a Used Car Salesman. Working with them has given me a different outcome. Most people would have said something like “shady” or “persuasive” or even as aggressive as “lairs”. I simply thought of the word “old”! All of the sales people I work with are much older but still genuinely nice people. What interested be about this activity was that the suggestions of word associations went from a negative association to suggestions to make a positive outcome, such as doctor.

One thing I did not particularly like in the book was in chapter 2. The statement ” Replace the job candidate with your mother (assuming she had the same resume as the candidate!” That in my opinion makes an in-group bias. The idea of listing family makes me feel differently whether they have the same resume or not. Like the book says in the previous chapter “Bias is a hardwired survival mechanism”. Much like bias, the in group of family is also hardwired.

The last few chapters of 6 “ask, don’t assume”, and 7 of “Listen, don’t judge” I had previous knowledge of from sensitivity training for work but what surprised me is the fact that through employment it is called sensitivity training but from the book I felt the sense of humanity. Just simply to the bone, honestly out yourself in others shoes. As cliche as it sounds, it is whole hardheartedly true. You can not assume others feel the same way and you should just listen to simply understand which i related back to the idea that if you give someone a background understanding of why you feel so passionately about something they are more inclined to be more respectful or might hold back from he oppressive statements they have a bias on.

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