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  • Writer's pictureIan Gibbs

Is Confirmation Bias Stopping You Getting Promoted?

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

How often do you use cognitive biases and how much are they limiting you?

Cognitive biases are like shortcuts our brain takes when we're making decisions. They can be really helpful at times because they make it easier for us to make decisions quickly.

However, they can also be a problem because they can cause us to make mistakes in our thinking and make bad decisions.

One of the commonest is Confirmation Bias where we only see information that supports our beliefs instead of considering all the facts.

An example is when someone is convinced they are great at their job when, in reality, they have several areas where they could definitely improve. Every time someone says "Well done!", they file it away in their memory to confirm their existing belief. But whenever someone says "That didn't go so well, did it?", they dismiss the comment, look for excuses and blame others.

Maybe you already know someone who suffers from this?

When it comes to self-improvement, confirmation bias can prevent us from recognising our weaknesses and potential areas for growth.

It stops us from seeing the obvious and makes us happy to live in denial.

And it stops us seeking out feedback and perspectives that can help us improve.

To compensate for confirmation bias, here are 4 challenges you might like to try:

1: Look for information that challenges your beliefs

Instead of only focussing on information that supports your opinions, actively seek out stuff that contradicts them. It will feel unnatural- even painful at times, but it can help you gain a more balanced perspective. If someone is saying something about you that you disagree with, hear them out.

2: Consider the source of the information

People tend to give more weight to information that comes from a trusted source or someone they respect. Be aware of this and try to evaluate the information objectively, regardless of the source. Just because you hear something from someone you don’t like doesn’t mean it’s not true. In fact people who don’t get on with you are more likely to point out your failings.

3: Keep an open mind

Try to receive all feedback with an open mind and be willing to change your beliefs if the evidence warrants it. Don’t start arguing when you hear something you disagree with. Instead, seek to understand their reasoning and point of view.

4: Finally, engage in critical thinking

When evaluating a problem you have, take time to consider all the available evidence, don’t just cherrypick the bits that suit you best. This can help you avoid jumping to conclusions based on limited information. Maybe, just maybe, the cause of the problem is you.

Once you start to overcome confirmation bias, you can start to recognise your weak points and take the right steps to strengthening them.

And that’s when real personal development starts happening.

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