This blog was originally posted on LinkedIn.
I have been giving a great deal of thought to decisions I have made and discussions I want to surface with others. I have also known for a long time that people see things differently through their own lens and that Confirmation Bias can have a big influence on how we arrive at our conclusions and how we perceive the conclusions of others.
For example, let's say that a manager makes a comment that a given team is always late which is why they are ineffective. Depending on your experience you may agree with this conclusion. On the other hand, you may know several teams that are always late that are very effective and disagree with this conclusion.
The point is that everyone draws conclusions based on their experiences and "Confirmation Bias." The big question is how can we prevent our confirmation bias from impacting our conclusions. There are lots of books and expert insights on how to solve this thorny question but here are some basic steps that may help along the way:
- Acknowledge that everyone makes decisions based (in part) on their experiences. Also that since your experiences may be different, don't be surprised if you reach a different conclusion.
- When conclusions are different, take the time to separate the Facts from the Conclusions and work to first align and agree on the facts.
- Discuss the conclusions that were drawn from those facts and seek to understand each other's point of view so that you can work together to align on a shared conclusion that is supported by the facts.
It is important to note that conclusions should support ALL of the agreed facts. It's easy to cherry-pick from any set of facts and draws different conclusions. It's hard to reach a conclusion that supports all of the agreed-upon facts.