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How To Overcome Confirmation Bias And Expand Your Mind

How To Overcome Confirmation Bias And Expand Your Mind

All of humanity lives with some degree of bias — it cannot be helped. Bias is forged into our minds from our formative years, passed down from parents, siblings, teachers, and friends. Many biases are not detrimental, but there are some that are harmful and will keep you from finding your true potential, from finding truth and from expanding your mind. The most limiting type of bias is confirmation bias, which simply means that when you look for information about something, you are looking through the lens of your preconceptions about the subject. When this happens, you will keep on searching until you find what fits with what you already think or believe.

People who want to expand their minds need to re-learn how to search for and process information without confirmation bias. Here are a few good ways to overcome confirmation bias to expand your mind.

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1. Don’t Be Afraid

Sometimes, when people hear the phrase “expand your mind,” they automatically think they will be brainwashed into believing some weird ideas, but it simply means to acquire the ability to think more deeply about ideas and beliefs. There is no need to be afraid of new ideas or someone else’s opinions. Expanding your way of thinking doesn’t mean you have to agree or disagree with someone or something — you will be able to think more critically about the world around you, and the world needs more deep thinkers!

2. Know That Your Ego Doesn’t Want You To Expand Your Mind

Ego gets in the way of so many things. It is beneficial to know who you are, but be on the lookout for your ego. Humility is not a virtue that is celebrated much today, but the world would be a better place if it was. When you try to eliminate confirmation bias, it is guaranteed that your ego will be put to the test. When this happens, remember you do not know everything, and even when you are 100 years old, you will still have lessons to learn about life. Practice humility when it comes to listening to others. We were given only 1 mouth, but 2 ears. Listen twice as much as you speak and you will be well on your way to expanding your mind.

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3. Think For Yourself

This is also a much-needed quality in today’s world. The internet is full of information, social media is full of opinions, and we are so busy that we end up quoting someone else’s thoughts without making sure we agree with what we are quoting. Think for yourself. Do not depend solely on what people are telling you — find out for yourself. If you have to do some thorough research, do it — you will be better off for it. It may mean you will need to tell someone you can’t give an answer right away because you need to take some time to think it over, or it may mean you will never have an answer to a problem. People who expand their minds know that some questions just don’t have answers.

4. If You Want To Expand Your Mind, You Must Be OK With Disagreements

Have you ever heard the phrase “devil’s advocate?” If a person believes something, a friend might come along and test those beliefs by asking pointed questions or making strong statements about the subject, usually from the opposing standpoint. If the person really knows their stuff, this does not pose a threat — it gives them a chance to really show how much they know about the topic! But for others who have not been thinking for themselves, someone playing devil’s advocate really points out the lack of an expanded mind. This point goes hand in hand with points 1and 2; be humble enough to seek out disagreements and don’t be afraid of opposing viewpoints. You can learn a lot from someone who disagrees with you. Arguing and fighting are never good ways to expand your way of thinking, but debate is a great way to exercise your brain “muscles.”

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5. Ask Good Questions

Remember when your teacher told you the only dumb question is an unasked question? That was true then, but you are older now, and if you want to expand your mind, you must not only ask good questions, but better questions. A good question is “what do you believe about this topic?”. A better question is “why do you believe this?” or “what led you to believe this?”. Asking questions that lead to deeper thought and conversation will help you to broaden your way of thinking.

6. Keep Information Channels Open

If you want to expand your mind, don’t close yourself off from new information. If philosophers, astronomers, and scientists had been closed to new information, we would still believe the world is flat, we wouldn’t know about gravity, and we would have no cures for any diseases. Keeping yourself open doesn’t mean following every new idea that comes along; it simply means being humble enough to know that no matter how much we learn, there is still room for more!

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Last Updated on June 3, 2020

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

We all crave constructive feedback. We want to know not just what we’re doing well but also what we could be doing better.

However, giving and getting constructive feedback isn’t just some feel-good exercise. In the workplace, it’s part and parcel of how companies grow.

Let’s take a closer look.

Why Constructive Feedback Is Critical

A culture of feedback benefits individuals on a team and the team itself. Constructive feedback has the following effects:

Builds Workers’ Skills

Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you come away from it feeling attacked—a key marker of destructive feedback—or did you feel like you learned something new?

Every time a team member learns something, they become more valuable to the business. The range of tasks they can tackle increases. Over time, they make fewer mistakes, require less supervision, and become more willing to ask for help.

Boosts Employee Loyalty

Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Employees want to receive it, but they also want the feedback they give to be taken seriously.

If employees see their constructive feedback ignored, they may take it to mean they aren’t a valued part of the team. Nine in ten employees say they’d be more likely to stick with a company that takes and acts on their feedback.[1]

Strengthens Team Bonds

Without trust, teams cannot function. Constructive feedback builds trust because it shows that the giver of the feedback cares about the success of the recipient.

However, for constructive feedback to work its magic, both sides have to assume good intentions. Those giving the feedback must genuinely want to help, and those getting it has to assume that the goal is to build them up rather than to tear them down.

Promotes Mentorship

There’s nothing wrong with a single round of constructive feedback. But when it really makes a difference is when it’s repeated—continuous, constructive feedback is the bread and butter of mentorship.

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Be the change you want to see on your team. Give constructive feedback often and authentically, and others will naturally start to see you as a mentor.

Clearly, constructive feedback is something most teams could use more of. But how do you actually give it?

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Giving constructive feedback is tricky. Get it wrong, and your message might fall on deaf ears. Get it really wrong, and you could sow distrust or create tension across the entire team.

Here are ways to give constructive feedback properly:

1. Listen First

Often, what you perceive as a mistake is a decision someone made for a good reason. Listening is the key to effective communication.

Seek to understand: how did the other person arrive at her choice or action?

You could say:

  • “Help me understand your thought process.”
  • “What led you to take that step?”
  • “What’s your perspective?”

2. Lead With a Compliment

In school, you might have heard it called the “sandwich method”: Before (and ideally, after) giving difficult feedback, share a compliment. That signals to the recipient that you value their work.

You could say:

  • “Great design. Can we see it with a different font?”
  • “Good thinking. What if we tried this?”

3. Address the Wider Team

Sometimes, constructive feedback is best given indirectly. If your comment could benefit others on the team, or if the person whom you’re really speaking to might take it the wrong way, try communicating your feedback in a group setting.

You could say:

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  • “Let’s think through this together.”
  • “I want everyone to see . . .”

4. Ask How You Can Help

When you’re on a team, you’re all in it together. When a mistake happens, you have to realize that everyone—not just the person who made it—has a role in fixing it. Give constructive feedback in a way that recognizes this dynamic.

You could say:

  • “What can I do to support you?”
  • “How can I make your life easier?
  • “Is there something I could do better?”

5. Give Examples

To be useful, constructive feedback needs to be concrete. Illustrate your advice by pointing to an ideal.

What should the end result look like? Who has the process down pat?

You could say:

  • “I wanted to show you . . .”
  • “This is what I’d like yours to look like.”
  • “This is a perfect example.”
  • “My ideal is . . .”

6. Be Empathetic

Even when there’s trust in a team, mistakes can be embarrassing. Lessons can be hard to swallow. Constructive feedback is more likely to be taken to heart when it’s accompanied by empathy.

You could say:

  • “I know it’s hard to hear.”
  • “I understand.”
  • “I’m sorry.”

7. Smile

Management consultancies like Credera teach that communication is a combination of the content, delivery, and presentation.[2] When giving constructive feedback, make sure your body language is as positive as your message. Your smile is one of your best tools for getting constructive feedback to connect.

8. Be Grateful

When you’re frustrated about a mistake, it can be tough to see the silver lining. But you don’t have to look that hard. Every constructive feedback session is a chance for the team to get better and grow closer.

You could say:

  • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
  • “We all learned an important lesson.”
  • “I love improving as a team.”

9. Avoid Accusations

Giving tough feedback without losing your cool is one of the toughest parts of working with others. Great leaders and project managers get upset at the mistake, not the person who made it.[3]

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You could say:

  • “We all make mistakes.”
  • “I know you did your best.”
  • “I don’t hold it against you.”

10. Take Responsibility

More often than not, mistakes are made because of miscommunications Recognize your own role in them.

Could you have been clearer in your directions? Did you set the other person up for success?

You could say:

  • “I should have . . .”
  • “Next time, I’ll . . .”

11. Time it Right

Constructive feedback shouldn’t catch people off guard. Don’t give it while everyone is packing up to leave work. Don’t interrupt a good lunch conversation.

If in doubt, ask the person to whom you’re giving feedback to schedule the session themselves. Encourage them to choose a time when they’ll be able to focus on the conversation rather than their next task.

12. Use Their Name

When you hear your name, your ears naturally perk up. Use that when giving constructive feedback. Just remember that constructive feedback should be personalized, not personal.

You could say:

  • “Bob, I wanted to chat through . . .”
  • “Does that make sense, Jesse?”

13. Suggest, Don’t Order

When you give constructive feedback, it’s important not to be adversarial. The very act of giving feedback recognizes that the person who made the mistake had a choice—and when the situation comes up again, they’ll be able to choose differently.

You could say:

  • “Next time, I suggest . . .”
  • “Try it this way.”
  • “Are you on board with that?”

14. Be Brief

Even when given empathetically, constructive feedback can be uncomfortable to receive. Get your message across, make sure there are no hard feelings, and move on.

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One exception? If the feedback isn’t understood, make clear that you have plenty of time for questions. Rushing through what’s clearly an open conversation is disrespectful and discouraging.

15. Follow Up

Not all lessons are learned immediately. After giving a member of your team constructive feedback, follow it up with an email. Make sure you’re just as respectful and helpful in your written feedback as you are on your verbal communication.

You could say:

  • “I wanted to recap . . .”
  • “Thanks for chatting with me about . . .”
  • “Did that make sense?”

16. Expect Improvement

Although you should always deliver constructive feedback in a supportive manner, you should also expect to see it implemented. If it’s a long-term issue, set milestones.

By what date would you like to see what sort of improvement? How will you measure that improvement?

You could say:

  • “I’d like to see you . . .”
  • “Let’s check back in after . . .”
  • “I’m expecting you to . . .”
  • “Let’s make a dent in that by . . .”

17. Give Second Chances

Giving feedback, no matter how constructive, is a waste of time if you don’t provide an opportunity to implement it. Don’t set up a “gotcha” moment, but do tap the recipient of your feedback next time a similar task comes up.

You could say:

  • “I know you’ll rock it next time.”
  • “I’d love to see you try again.”
  • “Let’s give it another go.”

Final Thoughts

Constructive feedback is not an easy nut to crack. If you don’t give it well, then maybe it’s time to get some. Never be afraid to ask.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

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