Biases like these are natural, used as cognitive shorthand for making quick social judgments in ambiguous situations, especially those involving people from unfamiliar ethnic or social groups. They become a problem when we’re not aware of their impact on other people. And if we’re part of a majority group with more social, economic, or political power than a minority one, then accumulated unconscious bias can be extremely destructive, limiting the life opportunities and hurting the well-being of the minority group. Understanding negative impacts of being bias, here are four solutions that you can practice to be more open and empathetic.
- Embrace cognitive diversity
This means learning to tolerate and perhaps even like people who think, act, and feel very differently than you do. It could be as simple as viewing a TV show you despise or listening to a podcast with which you strongly disagree. A better route would be to make an attempt to interact with those who question or oppose your ideals at least to understand how they think. By being exposed to people who are different–including sociodemographic and ethnic diversity–tends to make us more open-minded and tolerant, especially if we can find some common ground or overlap between their and our perspectives.
- Cultivate your empathy
Empathy is defined as the ability and willingness to take other people’s perspectives to understand what they are thinking and feel what they are feeling. by examining what others are thinking, their motivations, and their attitudes Then try to justify their thoughts and feelings. Pay special attention to those who are less fortunate and disadvantaged, and consider–at least temporarily–that they may not be as fortunate or successful as you, despite being as interesting, talented, or hardworking as you (if not more). Consider how you would feel in their situation. These and other simple perspective exercises can help you develop a habit of empathic thinking and feeling, making you more tolerant and possibly less biased.
- Practice mindfulness and loving-kindness
Mindfulness practices—such as paying attention in a nonjudgmental way to one’s breath or other sensations—can have an effect on reducing bias. Furthermore, Loving-kindness meditation—a practice that involves consciously sending out compassionate thoughts toward others—may also help. A short-term loving-kindness meditation can help us reduce implicit bias toward a targeted group.
- Develop cross-group friendships in our own lives
Cross-group friendships have been shown in several studies to decrease stress in intergroup situations, to decrease prejudice toward out group members, and to decrease one’s preference for social hierarchy or domination over lower-status groups. These findings alone might encourage you to seek out cross-group friendships in your lives so that you can be more receptive to the diverse people you meet.
Positive cross-group friendships can have contagion effects in other people within social groups, turning whole communities into warmer, more receptive spaces for cross-group interactions.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should indiscriminately approach someone just because they are from a different racial group. Instead, you can reach out to colleagues at work, or get involved in activities or perhaps attend events where people with different backgrounds and perspectives come together for a common cause. Developing friendships can be one of the best ways to break down barriers of prejudice, and it’s more easily done when people have some common interests.
Bias may be as natural as breathing and it may very well be impossible to drive it out of human consciousness. But by shifting your mindset and try to practice five solutions below, I hope you can improve and become a better version of yourself. Cheers!!!