As a constant learner and strategic thinker, you are likely looking for ways to increase your accuracy when taking in new observational inputs and processing information. You want to be a strong learner and by the end of this blog, you will have 3 additional tips to help you do just that.
Wait, I'm not prejudice
"Combat Your Prejudice & Bias? I don't have those qualities" you may think. To a degree, you may actually control your biases extremely well. But just to test yourself, see if any of these scenarios sound familiar. Your friend asks you if you want to try the new ramen shop that just opened up and you respond, "I don't know, I didn't really like the last ramen place we went to." Your girlfriend asks you if you want to go see the latest comedy that just hit theaters and you respond, "I saw the previews for that movie and it looked kind of boring." These scenarios highlight a truth about us, we like to make snap judgments about things we don't know about. A lot of our daily decisions are based on pre-defined assumptions that have been cultivated by our previous experiences. That and our brain loves high efficiency, so waisting a lot of mental resources to watching a movie that you may not like may not be worth your time.
Without knowing it, we have the potential to display bias and prejudice on a pretty regular basis. Whether that bias is social, educational, entertainment, etc...is largely based on your upbringing. Is there anything wrong with this form of thinking? What can we do to combat it? First let's discuss the types of prejudice.
Internally, prejudice and bias can leave a person feeling empowered and superior to others. This may give a person confidence in their intellect, learning potential, culture, etc...but it doesn't yield a high success rate when it comes to learning new things. Why? It closes down the mind to new ideas because the person exhibiting these traits, feels they already have the answer to what they are learning.
Externally, prejudice and bias can leave a person isolated from their peers. External prejudice means you allow external forces to dictate how you come to conclusions. "I don't want to go because the party might be to loud" or "I'm afraid of water so I don't think that going to the beach is a good idea." This type of bias shuts you down to learning opportunities that may be based on external factors. This bias will lead to a pattern of non growth as a learner.
Philosophical prejudice leaves you exposed to an incomplete thought process on a very large scale. This type of bias can almost be defined as your entire way of thinking. If you notice that you make broad assumptions about a lot of things, you are in danger of this type of prejudice. "I don't like those types of people because..." or "That town is full of losers" may be the types of phrases you would expect to hear from someone exhibiting philosophical prejudice.
We won't cover all the prejudice types in this post, but we can get an idea of what prejudice can do to our thinking. It leaves us exposed to a faulty reasoning and conclusions. Prejudice and bias aren't based on present data or evidence. Good learning objectives can be stifled by assuming that previous knowledge is absolute. While previous knowledge can be helpful and we should never ignore how we feel, we don't want to limit ourselves to just those things.
I Have Been There
I can totally relate to being biased and prejudice about many different things. I have turned down party invitations because I thought, "I won't have a good time." I have made snap judgments about a persons background, based only on how they carried themselves. I have even given up job opportunities because I thought, "Wow this job is way out of my league and depth." Using previous knowledge and assumptions to make decisions, can make life seem so much easier. I mean who want's to spend all day analyzing every new decision or learning objective? Your brain is designed to run efficiently and making assumptions and snap judgments is just what it likes to do. So what 3 things can we do to combat this mindset?
1.) Enjoy The Moment And Take It All In
Next time you learn or encounter something new, don't try to define the moment or form an opinion. Just take in the information as it comes your way. Try and focus on the details of the moment as well as how it makes you feel. Write down your observations in a journal either electronically or manually.
2.) Remind Yourself That Your Learning & Knowledge Is Limited
By reminding yourself that your current knowledge base is limited, you are opening your mind to the possibility that you will encounter something new and this is one of the best places to be mentally when learning.
3.) Spend a portion of your time each week, experiencing something new
By putting yourself into situations that are unfamiliar, you expose yourself to new opportunities to learn and think. This will grow your knowledge base and help you to flex your brain.
The benefits of working beyond your bias and prejudice will help you broaden your horizons and improve opportunities to learn. The more you practice these steps the more you will begin to notice that you are less prone to jump to conclusions. You will begin to take in information without predefining what it may mean. Once that happens, it's important that you begin to structure how you catalogue your observations as well as target the pieces of information you take in.
(Subscript: I had stopped writing for a number of weeks to work through some personal things. Unfortunately, when I go through anything that may be disheartening or distressing, my writing tends to be choppy and I flounder with my productivity goals. So this post is a start towards getting my bearings with writing after taking a hiatus for about 4 weeks or so. Thank you for reading my friends. Like always, engage your love of learning. - Ryan)