By Karen Tidsall, Founder and Director, InterCHANGEpd 

Definition: ‘Mindset’ – the established set of attitudes held by someone. 

Ever seen someone and made an instant decision that you did not like that person? Or, have you been in a situation where you feel you have understood what’s happening, only later to find you had missed the ‘back story’ and got the ‘wrong end of the stick’? On a daily basis, every decision we make is guided by our mindset. Powerful internal conversations lead us to make choices about what we are doing and how we approach life. 
 
There are many different factors that drive our mindset. Called ‘unconscious bias’, our brains make quick decisions about situations or people based on pre-held judgements. Such biases are directly influenced by our background, personal experiences, our culture and our religious beliefs. These perceptions can have far reaching consequences, especially within the workplace where a mix of people from different backgrounds and faiths need to work together harmoniously. 
 
Mindsets and bias in the workplace 
Within the working environment, unconscious biases can damage relationships between managers and teams. If a person is pre-judged before having the chance to express their point of view, this could lead to reduced morale. Biases can cause conflict and poor behaviour, making it difficult to constructively move a problematic situation forward to a healthy conclusion. An unhealthy unconscious bias can spread through a team, so a way of thinking becomes normal, accepted and goes unchallenged, which can lead to poor productivity. Like a virus, the ‘rotten egg’ of a perceived way of working can ‘infect’ every team member. 
 
Changing your mind 
Adjusting your mindset can be very hard to do. To compensate for unhealthy unconscious biases, your mind needs to repeatedly adapt to new and healthier behaviours, as well as an awareness of the impact you could have on others. With the right training, it is possible for people to change their mindset and become less judgemental. It is usually a matter of self-awareness. Taking the time to listen to another person; pausing to process the information they have given; responding accordingly; possibly repeating the information to make sure you have fully understood – instead of a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to a situation. Likewise, if the other person reciprocates in the same manner, this will ultimately lead to a constructive exchange[LS1] between people. 
 
Imagine team meetings without unconscious bias 
Managing a team meeting with outspoken personalities can feel like you’re treading on eggshells at times. This is likely to be due to the engrained mindsets of some of the people in the room. Their unconscious bias feeds their emotion, often leading to combative approaches to situations, stifling creativity and reducing effective thinking. Assumptions are made and the person acts accordingly. If people are not listening objectively, ‘zoning out’ due to their internal conversations and biases, it can seem impossible to resolve conflict and implement effective crisis management. 
 
What if we all took a minute to consider the other person’s view, objectively, and without judgement? Imagine how much smoother team meetings would flow when everyone takes the time to listen to their colleagues and make the effort to fully understand what’s being said? Changing mindsets and unconscious biases is possible with the right training. It’s a sound recipe for creating an energetic and positive culture within your workplace. 
 
If you would like to find out more about changing mindsets and unconscious bias, please get I touch. 
 
If you have enjoyed this article, why not read our other blog on this subject – Unconscious Bias in just a Minute! 
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