Prejudices, unconcious bias, preconceived ideas and much more!

13.15. A pizzería near home. We are the first customers. Very cold out … and very cold inside the pizzería. And I start (to myself): “Why can’t they heat this place up in advance? Yeah … like all places round here they’re just set up for the summer. Probably don’t want to spend the money on heating.”

We wait (I hate waiting). The owner comes over with the menu, dressed in jeans. I don’t like jeans in places set up to be ‘smart’.

(I believe the same thing with presenters on the telly – when I first started out in my profession I learnt from a fantastic trainer that presenters should be dressed a bit smarter than what the audience expects.)

Not even some grissini while we’re waiting. And I say to myself “Don’t judge. Don’t judge.” When we finally order a pizza between the two of us, the owner tries to sell us a starter, not very subtly (Was his way really not very subtle or was it my unconscious bias with respect to jeans talking?).

I keep saying to myself: “Don’t judge. Don’t judge.” And with how much success? Possibly not much because, as will not surprise you by this time, the pizza didn’t come up to expectations….

It still surprises me how easily I fall into non-productive thinking and behaviour. They come from all those unconscious biases, beliefs, prejudices, preconceived ideas and learning that I do not question which lead me to stick labels on people.

What happens with labels?

Well, we stick them on with superglue. And people behave according to the labels we have put on them.

For us to take them off two things need to happen:

  1. I say to myself I am being unfair (“at this moment I’m trying to enjoy a pizza in good company, not psychoanalyse myself.”);
  2. The other person needs to change (¿what probabilities exist that the owner will go to the kitchen and come out wearing smart trousers?).

What is more, is that not only do I need to revise my beliefs and biases, but also prepare myself for a possible loss: my belief about presenters in jeans I have been nurturing and acting on accordingly for years.

Obviously, if I see it another way, it could be a huge gain.

Will we go back to the pizzería? Yes, if only to give myself another opportunity to go in with another attitude, which will maybe be fairer on the owner, and will affect the experience.

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