Overcoming my bias

A few resources for you on overcoming biases. And, yes, we all have them…

Learning objective: Recognize implicit bias

  • Implicit Association Test (IAT), which has become the standard for measuring implicit bias
  • A Class Divided (The Brown eyes / Blue eyes story)
  • Johari Window (A simple and useful tool for illustrating and improving self-awareness, and mutual understanding between individuals within a group. I use the “Unknown” box to illustrate bias)
  • The Hermann Grid activity (Sometimes we see things that do not exist; First impressions are not always right) 

Learning objective: Identify specific techniques for overcoming bias

Learning objective: Describe ways to build trust

Learning objective: Explain how initial perception can create a self-fulfilling prophesy

Story on Self-Fulfilling Prophesy: “The monk and the travellers”

One day a traveller was walking along a road on his journey from one village to another. As he walked he noticed a monk tending the ground in the fields beside the road. The monk said “Good day” to the traveller, and the traveller nodded to the monk. The traveller then turned to the monk and said “Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a question?”.

“Not at all,” replied the monk.

“I am travelling from the village in the mountains to the village in the valley and I was wondering if you knew what it is like in the village in the valley?”

“Tell me,” said the monk, “What was your experience of the village in the mountains?”

“Dreadful,” replied the traveller, “to be honest I am glad to be away from there. I found the people most unwelcoming. When I first arrived I was greeted coldly. I was never made to feel part of the village no matter how hard I tried. The villagers keep very much to themselves, they don’t take kindly to strangers. So tell me, what can I expect in the village in the valley?”

“I am sorry to tell you,” said the monk, “but I think your experience will be much the same there”.

The traveller hung his head despondently and walked on.

A while later another traveller was journeying down the same road and he also came upon the monk.

“I’m going to the village in the valley,” said the second traveller, “Do you know what it is like?”

“I do,” replied the monk “But first tell me – where have you come from?”

“I’ve come from the village in the mountains.”

“And how was that?”

“It was a wonderful experience. I would have stayed if I could but I am committed to travelling on. I felt as though I was a member of the family in the village. The elders gave me much advice, the children laughed and joked with me and people were generally kind and generous. I am sad to have left there. It will always hold special memories for me. And what of the village in the valley?” he asked again.

“I think you will find it much the same” replied the monk, “Good day to you”.

 “Good day and thank you,” the traveler replied, smiled, and journeyed on.

2 thoughts on “Overcoming my bias

  1. Susan, your article is a much needed reminder for us to reflect on our behavior every now and then. I enjoyed reviewing the brown eyes/blue eyes story again after all these years as well as the links to activities to learn about our self-awareness. The story “The monk and the travellers” hits home, I have been around people that continue to breed negativity all around them, and I think that cycle can be hard to break especially when it is not realized. It is easy to feel sorry for one’s self and focus on the negative, which is why we do need to take the time to look around us and realize that it is not that bad after all. So, thanks again!


  2. Analogies, scenarios, synopsis, parody & stories are the tools of our trade: I wouldn’t be without them………….Both as a Teacher/Trainer and Father!


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