Ever judged someone without meaning to, or maybe made a snap decision about someone before you’ve actually gotten to know them? Yeah, we thought so. That’s a thing called unconscious bias. It’s basically a big pot of all your experiences, opinions, media reports and things people might have told you about others. These all build up after a while, and mean we make judgements about other people based on things like race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, appearance or background.
Our Annual Bullying Survey (which you can read here) also found out that this is a huge reason why people bully. So, we figured that if we can tackle it, we can help to end bullying for good. That’s why we put together this handy guide to hacking your unconscious bias.
1) Be aware that you have it
So, here’s the thing about unconscious bias. The whole point is that you don’t know you have it. Confusing, right? And how are you supposed to help deal with something that you and everyone else in the world doesn’t actually acknowledge? Yeah, we don’t like to set ourselves easy tasks. The first step is being aware of your unconscious bias and where it might lie for you. Take our quiz here to find out.
2) Reprogramme your thoughts
So, you’ve found out about unconscious bias, but now what? Thought reprogramming might sound like something out of Ex Machina, but it actually is a great way to stop yourself from judging others. So, next time you find yourself making snap judgements about people you don’t even know for whatever reason, try to reprogram that thought.
Check yourself by turning that negative thought into a positive thought about them. So, something like
“That guy is such a baby for crying like that” could be “being vulnerable can’t be easy, and it’s actually pretty brave to do that”
“That girl looks ridiculous” could be “she is really pretty”
When we are run by negative thoughts and impressions of people, that becomes all we put out into the universe. Make some changes to your thought patterns and see what positivity you can put out there. Whether you believe in karma or not, it’s never a bad idea to be nice about somebody.
3) Think about why you feel that way
We know it’s hard to look critically at why we feel a certain way. But there probably is a reason why you feel a certain way about someone before you know them. Whether that’s your parents’ opinions, a news report that said something negative about a certain group of people, or even just that you haven’t encountered much diversity in your life.
If this is the case, try and expose yourself to different groups of people from different backgrounds. The more we’re around different people and get to know them, the harder it is to make judgements based on simple facts like skin colour, gender or sexuality.
4) Think about your environment…
Maybe you have a couple of pals or a family member who have pretty strong opinions on certain groups of people. Well this could really affect the way you look at the world. Sure, we all like to be independent and individual, but there is no denying that how others see the world affect our perception of it too.
5) And make some changes to it if you feel like you have to
So, with that in mind, maybe think about doing something about it. We aren’t saying you should immediately break friends with anyone who has a negative opinion about anyone else, but there are things you can do. Try sitting down with them and ask them about why they feel that way, or show them this. Maybe it might be an opportunity for them to have a think about why they feel that way.
6) Check other people if you feel like you can
Kinda like what we said above, if someone in your life is saying a lot of negative stuff about other people for no good reason, call them out on it. Chances are, they don’t realise they have unconscious bias. Get them to do our quiz and see if they feel ready to make changes. Then, you can start your self-improvement journey together, which is pretty sweet.
7) Spread the word
Yeah, unconscious bias is everywhere, and it’s a pretty big beast to try to defeat, especially when most people have no clue that they even have it. The thing is, we are not going to stop trying because we know it can have a direct impact on why people bully others.
Get some of your pals involved, spread the word at your school and see if you can help tackle bullying by tackling unconscious bias.
8) Everyone is different
The world would be a pretty boring place if we were all the same, so inevitably you are going to meet people who are different to you. That doesn’t mean that they are in any way wrong, or deserve to be outcast. Especially if these people are in the minority, it’s important to remember that they should be included in society just as much as anyone else.
Think your unconscious bias might be making some decisions for you? Take our quiz to find out!