Have you ever had a meeting, maybe it’s a one-on-one, maybe it’s a team meeting; you came to it with enthusiasm and excitement because you had something you really wanted to share. But, when it was your turn and you shared your idea, it was met with at the least, a light dismissal or at the most outright disdain or dislike.
We’ve all probably been on both sides of this experience, and it’s a great reminder to take a few minutes to be intentional before you enter into any conversation or meeting. Part of that intention can be as simple as saying something to yourself like,
“I have preferences and ideas of my own but will remain committed to staying open and curious about the person or people I’m meeting with.”
Check Your Bias Before Entering Conversations
Much of our reaction in situations is based on our prior experiences and the knowledge we’ve accumulated – our information and experience bias. These biases can contribute to poor communication, low morale and missed goals. We often bring our own biases into conversations, whether in-person, virtual or in a chat. With the increasing knowledge and hyper-segmentation of people, places, and things, we may have more knowledge but less understanding, leading to greater misunderstandings and wider gaps in communication.
A recent meeting I was in showed the impact of bias in communication. The speaker made a blanket exclusionary statement about a certain group not participating in an activity. Their bias was reflected in their tone and language, which in turn began to cause conflict within the group. But, by respectfully asking questions and showing curiosity about assumptions that had been made, the conversation shifted into a productive exchange with others sharing positive experiences with the activity and having the opportunity to illustrate how it could be useful for the goal at hand.
To improve communication, it’s crucial to evaluate our biases before entering conversations and to stay curious. Take a moment to pause before responding to new information or something that stirs strong emotions. This pause can provide valuable self-awareness and help overcome biases that may hinder the conversation.