By Fred Kofman
Philosopher and Vice President at Linkedin
In the picture we see a uniformed police officer running behind a man in plain clothes. The obvious interpretation is that the white policeman is chasing the black man. That is not the case.
In fact, the two men in the picture belong to the London Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard). Together they chase a suspect who’s out of the frame. Scotland Yard used this photograph in a poster to attract black candidates. The campaign creators speculated that most people would make the wrong inference about the picture and posted it with the caption: “Another example of police prejudice, or another example of your prejudice?”
Prejudice is an unconscious judgment, a generalization impermeable to disconfirming information. Although racism is chastised in business, we suffer from another kind of prejudice I call “selfism”.
Selfism is the unconscious belief that I’m right because I’m me and whoever doesn’t agree with me is wrong, the belief that I see the world as it is and whoever doesn’t see it my way is mistaken, the conviction that I’m the good guy and whoever doesn’t think like (or look like) me is a bad guy.
Selfism makes you refractory to opposing views, to challenging data, to different beliefs. It is impossible to interact and learn from others if you’re a selfist.
It’s necessary to warn against racist and selfist generalizations, but let’s not throw the baby out with the dirty water.
You can’t live your life without adding meaning or drawing conclusions based on assumptions and generalizations. What you can do is improve your life and your interactions by putting in practice five guidelines:
Find more exercises related to mindfulness at work here.
To learn more about bringing consciousness into your business, please visit HERE.
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