Expanding the Pause

Of course, we all have biases; what’s necessary is to

  • Recognise and accept that we all have biases
    • Sometimes an assumption is made that it’s only the majority, or the power elite, who are biased – so for example in places where white men dominate the power structures men are biased, white people are biased, etc.  In fact, a bias is simply a preference. We all have biases, positive and negative preferences; before starting to react to someone else’s biases (or your perception of them) accept that your own biases are at work, notice what they are, and work with them.
  • Practice self awareness in a consistent and ongoing way
    • One of my biases is that we all need to do our own work first. It may be a cliché, but I believe deeply that if we want to change the world, we must change ourselves. Another way to put it is that if we want to help create and sustain a more inclusive, more equitable world, we need to constantly exercise awareness of, and work skilfully with, our own thoughts and feelings. I find the practices of mindfulness and compassion – for ourselves as well as others —  to be essential for this.
  • Pause between stimulus and response
    • A quote variously misattributed to Viktor Frankl and Stephen Covey says “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power and our freedom.” While the actual source of quote is unknown, it is a powerful reminder that the key to closing the gap between intention and action lies in noticing the stimulus and expanding the pause before we respond. In that expanded pause we notice our reactions, become aware of our biases, remind ourselves of our intention to work together, and consider a range of ways in which we might respond.
  • Biases inherent in Diversity and Inclusion work
    • A resource I find quite useful is the Diversity and Inclusion Approaches Insight and Impact Worksheet from the Centre for Global Inclusion. Understanding our own bias in our approach to the work, and the biases of our organisation or client, gives us more options, helps us understand limitations and blindspots, and expands the repertoire of approaches and solutions. http://centreforglobalinclusion.org/The-Centre/di-approaches-insight-impact-activity/