Is Your Unconscious Bias Holding You Back?

Is Your Unconscious Bias Holding You Back?

July 20, 2016
Business Skills

by RDBA Contributing Editor Amanda Rubizhevsky, MPH, NC

In less than one tenth of a second after meeting someone or approaching a situation we make a snap judgment. We unconsciously evaluate others and make choices from these judgments. This is our unconscious bias. It’s the implicit attitude, action or judgment that’s controlled by an automatic evaluation without our awareness. 

Our unconscious bias is shaped by our culture, education, background, life experiences and social group identity. In addition, we are hardwired to prefer those who sound like us, look like us, and share our interests.

As a retail dietitian, if you want to benefit from diversity of thought, experience, and make deeper more meaningful connections with your shoppers, you’ll need to make a concerted effort to overcome this unconscious bias.  

Here are three ways to start: 

  1. Identify and check your assumptions about others. Be aware of the areas where you might be quick to judge and keep them top of mind. Take a deep breath or count to ten when you feel like you are reverting to your biases.  Consider the perspective a shopper might be coming from and what the true concern might be behind the question the shopper asks.  You may be asked the same questions many times by shoppers or frequently asked to justify the role of the RD in the retail setting, but it’s essential to treat these each as a fresh request and manage any snap judgements.  
  2. Expand your work friendships. Look beyond those to whom you usually turn. Grab lunch with someone new from work, or at a networking event make sure to talk to people who you typically wouldn’t approach.
  3. Get feedback. Ask your manager, friends and coworkers about how they perceive you and ask them about your biases. Be open to feedback, even when it may be difficult to hear. Talking to others and exploring biases is one of the best ways to expose your subconscious thoughts and better understand yourself and others. This will not only help you grow in your career but connect more deeply with customers so you are always addressing their true needs.

Try working on one of these areas this week. It can take time to uncover and reshape your biases, so have patience as it’s sure to pay off.