5 Cognitive Biases

Want to avoid a communication impasse so you don’t walk away merely “agreeing to disagree” . . . or just angry?

No guarantees, but here are 5 cognitive biases to consider when communicating across differences, and what we can try:

5 Cognitive Biases to Understand to Communicate Better Across Differences

1️⃣ They are not seeing the light no matter how hard you beat them over the head with the lamp.

The Backfire Effect

🧠 We tend to respond to information that contradicts our views by doubling down on our views. The attempt to convince by showing “proof” to the contrary, backfires.

💁🏻‍♀️ Presenting your position less bluntly, helps.

2️⃣ Hearing crickets is not a clear answer.

Consensus Bias

🧠 We tend to assume that more people agree with us or share our beliefs than actually do.

⚠️ This can predispose us to think those who disagree are wrong, and that those who stay silent are afraid to admit it.

💁🏻‍♀️ Keep this in mind when confronted with a different viewpoint or someone’s silence on an issue.  A false consensus can actually make us less open-minded on the issue.

3️⃣ I already know the truth; it’s been around for a long time.

Conservatism Bias

🧠 We get attached to the familiar. Information we’ve held on to for a longer time tends to put down stronger roots than new information that challenges the familiar.

💁🏻‍♀️ Everything isn’t an either/or. Sometimes we just need to find ways to reconcile new information with our existing knowledge. Present new or different ideas with this is mind.

4️⃣ That information is not reliable because I disagree.

Confirmation Bias

🧠 We tend to give more weight to information that confirms our existing beliefs and opinions on a matter.

💁🏻‍♀️ And THEY do too.  Find the common ground in your understanding on an issue so you aren’t just talking past each other.

5️⃣ I completely agree?  Wait, are we talking about me??

Bias Blind Spot

🧠 We tend to think others have more biases than we do or are less aware of their biases than we are.

💁🏻‍♀️ Unless they asked, spend less time trying to enlighten others about their biases and work on spotting your own. If we ALL do this . . . I believe the math works out 😉.

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