Two weekends ago I was in Owen Sound Ontario (yes, in the snowstorm!) attending a workshop called The Mastery of Self Expression.
It’s an amazing few days of getting to know ourselves better and challenging ourselves to be more of who we are.
One of the things we talked a lot about over the weekend is the fact that people tend to spend too much time in their head, and not enough time connecting with others. In some cases this means we are making up stories, in other cases, it could be that we are just not present.
Assumptions separate us
It struck me as similar to what I talk about in workshops and presentations when dealing with assumptions – and how they keep us separate. When we think we know someone, based on bias (conscious or unconscious), stereotypes, prior experience with ‘people like them’, what we hear on the news, what we learned (or didn’t learn) about ‘people like them’ in school, etc. we are living in our head. The tragedy is that we often think we are right, and then we don’t make the effort to talk, ask questions, connect with or reach out to ‘those people’. Then, confirmation bias can come in and we see things that seem to tell us we are right.
A vicious cycle
It’s a vicious cycle.
It shows up in classrooms in how some students are sent to the office more often, not called on in class, flagged for children’s aid intervention, and seen as ‘behavioural’.
It shows up in neighbourhoods in how we walk by some houses and comment, don’t invite certain neighbours over, and how kids decide (or are told) who they won’t/shouldn’t play with.
It shows up in health care in how patients are spoken to, the options they receive, and the care they can expect.
It shows up in workplaces in who is recruited, hired, and promoted – but also in who is asked for input, who is placed on a project, whose ideas are listened to, and who feels like ‘a fit’.
What we can each do…
It’s important to notice what we are thinking and the judgments that go along with it. When we are aware, we have a choice.
And then…how amazing would it be if, instead of assuming we were right, we asked some questions, and got to know someone better?
Try it out this week!