PAUSE to Mitigate Bias in Decision-Making

A friend shared a video with me today. They didn’t say what it was about but assured me I’d like it. They were right. It went deep on unconscious bias. This is something I’ve thought a lot about but frankly haven’t taken the time to study. The video did a great job of filling in lots of gaps. It shared a framework that can be used to mitigate unconscious bias. Here’s how it works:

  • P – Pay attention and notice your reactions and assumptions. We all react to situations and people. Being on the lookout for how you do it is important.  
  • A – Acknowledge your assumptions. Assumptions affect how we relate to people and situations. And they lead to your brain making decisions on your behalf without your conscious permission. Be aware of your assumptions to be aware of what’s affecting how you relate to people and make decisions.
  • U – Understand your perspective. In other words, be self-aware. How is your history affecting how you perceive a situation or person? Different life experiences lead to different perspectives. Your perspective might not be the only way to see things.
  • S – Seek different perspectives. This helps you understand that your point of view is just that, a point of view. Not the objective truth. Hearing other perspectives can help you understand whether your assumptions are valid. Making a habit of hearing and understanding (not necessarily agreeing with) other perspectives also helps build empathy. Building human connections with people who are different from you can lead to more positive impressions of entire groups of people.
  • E – Examine your options. After disrupting bias with the above-mentioned steps, you probably have more options. Use them to make an objective decision.

I have bias, and so does everyone else. Today I learned that bias is natural and necessary for human survival and decision-making. It’s based on assumptions and helps us in many instances by reducing the amount of thought required to make a decision. Being aware of bias and not making critical or complex decisions decision based on bias is the key.