diversity & inclusion bias

Often things aren’t what they seem

If you haven’t seen this advert for Carlsberg beer, take a minute to watch it.

Beer’s not my preferred drink, but I do think this a really clever twist on the way that preconceptions keep us in their thrall.

What is really interesting is how each couple reacts when they see the bikers. We make snap judgments. Instant assessments of our surroundings and other people based on what our senses tell us, and what we know. Or think we know. In half of the cases the couples leave without taking their seat – or claiming their prize.

We’re hard-wired to hold preconceived ideas – to make fast decisions before we are in full possession of all the facts. Human beings have evolved to survive in a hostile and dangerous environment, and our wellbeing hinges on the choices we make. It’s in our nature to react quickly.

However, when an idea or an opinion makes it hard to arrive at an objective assessment of a situation or another person, we are just as likely to miss an opportunity or make a mistake. I nearly missed a fantastic expert in a bike shop recently just because he didn’t look like my view of a bike guru and I was too busy too pause and challenge my assumptions!

We carry our preconceptions around with us everywhere: at home, with friends and family, in the work place. But whilst it’s pretty hard to avoid preconceived ideas, it is possible to stop, turn a situation around and question the way we think, from time to time.

To quote one of my favorite actors, Alan Alda: “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

How often do you scrub your windows and challenge your assumptions?