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Never ASSUME… it makes an ASS out of U and ME.

This line was running through my head as I wrote the scripts for our Unconscious Bias training courses. Does anyone else remember where they first heard this?

For me, it was when the very endearing Paul Hennessy was trying to teach his teenage girls, Bridget and Kerry, a lesson about making assumptions in the show 8 Simple Rules.

Here’s the clip in case your face is missing a smile today…

Credit for this video goes to Youtube user JoshuaO95

But what’s this got to do with Unconscious Bias?

Well, biases create assumptions. To have a bias towards or against something means to have a thought or opinion (or to make a decision) about it based on someone or something else, instead of the individual or situation in front of us. It’s about our past experiences directly influencing our current behaviour.

And the bigger problem is that many biases are unconscious - we don’t deliberately create them. They are created without us being aware of it; our minds are always hard at work behind the scenes storing away opinions on everything we see, hear and experience.

This is how we make assumptions about people. Our minds naturally group people together based on many things - race, gender, sexual preferences, job role, hobbies, clothing, hair colour - the list goes on. But this simply isn’t fair. No matter how similar two people may appear, everyone is different, and making an assumption about someone based on a bias means to put a label on them without any proof.

For instance, we’re sitting in traffic with a mini-cooper in front of us. Many of us will assume that the driver is a young woman. We’re probably unaware (unconscious) of this opinion until we overtake the mini and notice a burly guy in his mid-forties behind the wheel - only then do we become aware (conscious) of our opinion when we realise that the driver has surprised us.

Haha. Whoops.

Another example - I always assumed pineapple joining ham on pizza was a bad choice… fruit on pizza? Eww. But you know what, I’d never actually tried it. I just assumed it would taste nasty. But how could I think such a thing without any proof? My bias against Hawaiian pizza was completely unfounded.

Then last year I found myself in a do or die situation - it was Hawaiian pizza or no pizza at all. So I bit the bullet. I tried it. And DAMN it was GOOD. Assumption dissolved.

What an ass.

I spent years with this fixed assumption, only to find out that I was wrong. And do you know how long it took me to discover this? One bite. I just needed a nudge to challenge my belief. So I hope iHasco can be your helpful nudge for you to challenge some of yours…

Our Unconscious Bias courses, one for employees and one for management, talk you through unconscious biases, how they’re created, and the effects they have on your personal and working life.

Most importantly, they offer you simple and effective ways to make your biases conscious, so you can challenge them and reduce their influence on your thoughts, beliefs and behaviour.

Reducing bias is a crucial step towards creating a more tolerant, inclusive and harmonious environment in both our working and personal lives.

I’m tired of being an ass! How about you?