Automatic reactions and exposure to diversity

As human beings, we are wired to execute a series of actions automatically. For instance, mirroring significant others around us when we are babies and toddlers is one of the most effective and powerful ways to learn, unconsciously. And the same mechanism continues when we are teenagers and adult, where maybe we don’t mirror anymore, or not exclusively, our parents but also our friends, heroes we discover in books and movies, community leaders, and colleagues at the workplace.


Think about your first few days at a new workplace. You were particularly attentive to capture any clues about relationships, well-accepted behaviours, taboos, meanings of places and words, and other things like these.


In doing so, we want to be part of something bigger than just us as individuals, and at the same time, within that group of peers, we want to be unique, distinguishable.

Who does teach us how to do so? What strategies do we use to behave? What signals do we read in others to understand if we are right or wrong?


Usually, we acquire the necessary skills to navigate such complexity through socialization processes within our family (if we are lucky and we have one), and then at school, among friends, and in the relationships that we build with significant others. Every time, and I mean every time, we interact with someone, we automatically activate a series of checkpoints.


For instance, we guess the mood of the other person and, if they are in a negative one, we try to understand if it is our fault or we might be of any support. We try to guess the intentions of others and we react ‘properly’, that is ‘properly according to our understanding of the situation’ which is deeply affected by our bias, prejudgment, previous experiences and socialization processes.


So, the more we expose ourselves to different experiences, environments, and people the more we enlarge the archive of tools and strategies we can use to judge situations, behaviours, and reactions.


We will never be completely sure that we are right, or that we are doing the right thing, but this isn’t actually the real goal. The goal is to acquire the ability of double and even triple check our thoughts before reacting and to learn as fast as possible from our mistakes and misinterpretations.


If you want to know more about this topic, contact me and I will be happy to provide further information.

#bias #diversity #experiencing

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