4 ways to fight back to cognitive bias on workplaces

The typical viewpoint, and an overall thought around our behaviour as humans, are that we are «rational beings». I bet you heard that before. We make decisions and behave in ways that benefit us. All the way from the conscious decisions to the unconscious ones. We are in the interest of doing behaviour that should max out on advantage and utility and minimise risk and cost towards what we value.

But the question would be, are we as humans really “rational beings»? I can assure you that we are not as rational as we would like to think we are, maybe not rational at all. And there is plenty of evidence that can be put forward as proof of that.

Just look at how we buy, consume and invest. How we communicate and influence each other. Cognitive biases are everywhere, in almost every setting we can encounter. There comes up some bias we experience, and have in connection almost any situation.

We all have cognitive biases, and they make us do bad or stupid decisions, behave irrational and not connected with reality in our decisions. Do inaccurate judgements, on even the things we know to our fingertips. Even in some cases it may result in a total blindness or distortion of reality. Where our perception, or how we experience the world. Well…we see things that simply aren’t there.

So in a workplace setting, how can we prevent these kind of effects from ruining everyones good mood? 

  1. Awareness. Being aware of the effects of cognitive biases and that they exist is essential to how you cope with them. Either way how you use them. Being aware of how they affect you, and others is a key element in knowing how to distort your thinking. And reduce the damaging impact of the biases. An advice is to learn as much you can from cognitive biases, and recognise them in yourself and others. Maybe even read my articles on cognitive biases related to business and workplaces here on Linkedin (You can find a list of them in the article collection).
  2. Collaboration. As you maybe have noticed, it is far easier to see mistakes in others then yourself. So when you are in meeting or making decisions in general, look for them in others. Are they biased in their decision-making process somehow? Not that you have to look for mistakes in each other, that doesn’t make any good decisions. But simply being aware and collaborate to make the best decisions, that is a great tool. There are plenty of ways on how to communicate this in a good and professional way, to make the best decisions for your businesses. 
  3. Questions. Learn how to ask questions to uncover the presence of cognitive biases. Use you understanding of cognitive biases to ask yourself, and others the right questions. Questions that will enlighten you if there are any cognitive biases present. Remember: The right questions have the power to challenge judgement and conclusion. The simple word «why» has greater power then you think.
  4. Framework of decision making. By establishing a solid framework and process of decision making in your organisation you limit chances of cognitive bias. That being said, brainstorming is a great way of getting great ideas. But not often as good when it comes to making the decisions themselves. Creative thinking, something that is very popular when it comes to finding good and innovative solutions in today’s business. And a viable tool to make decision options. This free thinking has potential to fire up some cognitive biases. So the final decisions on the options found in the brainstorming process, should follow established frameworks of decision making.

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