Change Masters has a mission of helping our clients see themselves as others do. More importantly, helping our clients align their intentions and how they are perceived by others. All of us, including me, have a gap between what we intend and what others perceive to be our intention. We all fall short of communicating our intent to broad audiences. We all have a gap between our “higher-self” that we aspire to, or the way we like to think of ourselves, and the “real-self” that shows up every day in our behavior and communication … particularly when we are tired.
I am continually interested in how perceptions are formed and how the gaps in our perception impact everyday life. When I found the book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald, I was curious. The book focuses on documented and generally accepted social science studies to look at our preconceptions in many areas. Why do we enthusiastically support our local sports team? Why do we think God is on our side when we go to war?
The authors look at the gaps in the discussion of race in the United States. Why do so many of the white majority (at the moment) think race prejudice has improved significantly, while many minorities still feel the consequences of prejudice?
The book establishes and explains the explicit bias and implicit bias gap in each of us. In this time of explosive campaign rhetoric, thoughtful discourse is very welcome. Hopefully, these insights will help bridge our internal gaps, as well as allow us to extend grace to others who we judge for having gaps between stated beliefs and perceived conflicting behavior.
Only 15% of the population would explicitly say they are prejudiced. Explicit racism is dramatically less than 50 years ago. After all, the country elected a liberal black president; twice. Few would argue that there has not been progress.
The truth the authors explore in the book is that many people who do not see themselves as prejudiced … act in prejudiced ways that are often very subtle, and yet powerful in aggregate. Many of our biases are invisible to us. Its like water to a fish.
It is not a book about race
The book is about how we form our world view and what modifies that view over time. It expands on how children recognize their mother’s voice at birth and are thus attracted to them first. It is about our hidden bias regarding the role of women and the limitations that are created for women… by both men and women. It is about hiring, developing and promoting people in the workplace. It provides insights into how minorities of various types often feel like outsiders, even when the explicit messages are welcoming to them.
When we were testing the title of our book, “Seeing Yourself as Others Do“, people would at first smile at the thought of knowing how they are seen, and then frown as they wondered if they really wanted to know. The “Blindspot” book is a little like that. It tells us what we need to know … even if some of it is uncomfortable.