The other day, I sent an email to someone who is a decision-maker at a large donor
foundation. After a few days with no reply, I assumed they were not interested in funding us. I moved on and got over my feelings of rejection. This morning, they contacted me, apologising for the slow response as their mother had recently died suddenly. They were keen to meet and explore funding opportunities with us.
I realised that I had come to a conclusion without having all the facts. I had pre-judged the situation. This is not a great way to use our judging faculties. Not only had I judged the situation without all the facts, but I had also come too hastily, to the conclusion that they were not going to fund us. It was all about me and my fear of abandonment.
We are all biased. We all discriminate. We all make judgments with too little information.
This is a common human reaction. Our prejudices too often, also become generalised to entire populations. Racism, sexism, and "othering" of all types and stripes seem to feed off these common-sense ways of making sense.
Over the past few years, I have resolved to adopt 3 policies when drawing conclusions. Try these, and see how well they work for you:
When something unexpected happens or doesn't happen, resist the temptation to draw an immediate conclusion. Try to suspend your need to make sense. Bracket the situation and allow it time to unfold by itself. This can seem really hard at first but learning not to be judgemental is a crucial life skill. A life skill that improves with practice.
Elect to be biased. Biased for the Good. Choose to assume the very best intentions from everyone with whom you interact. Even when all the evidence is to the contrary. This is difficult to do, and sometimes it will be impossible. You should never allow yourself to be put in emotional distress or physical danger. Apart from times of threat, try to see others as people, like you, on a journey, doing their best.
There is only one caveat to the first policy. Be biased toward the poor. Choose a preferential option for the poor, the socially excluded, and the forgotten in our society. When working with those who experience poverties, and who lack power, don't try to be "fair", balanced, or proportionate. Give full vent to your prejudice by preferencing the socially excluded over the wealthy and the powerful.
If we are all biased then let's bring our biases to consciousness. Identify them. Let's then deliberately use them for the Good. In a very real sense, this is what we at Brickless are doing. By inviting people to identify their needs and then creating spaces where they can ask for them to be satisfied, through networking, our online personal assistant offering, and through various marketing services.
Join us by booking your place at our next online networking session: www.brickless.org