Episode 34 – Common Perception Biases

Your Sports Resource

According to research, people frequently simplify complex decisions using their basic preferences and judgments rather than acting fully rationally.

In this episode, I’m going to talk about the different biases we have as individuals so you will have an idea of how you see the world and how you interact with it from your own perspective.

As always, I’m happy to share one of my favorite book about leadership.

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00:00:03 Introduction

This is the Your Sports Resource podcast, where each week you’ll learn actionable strategies that you can implement. So, the operations of your club support your coaching staff and the direction of your organization. We are committed to excellence in youth sports leadership. Let’s get started.


Hello and welcome to the Your Sports Resource podcast. My name is Renata Porter, and today we’re going to talk about the different biases we have as individuals.


So how we see the world and how we interact in it from our own perspective, I’m going to refer to an infographic.


That was created by Maria Luisa Engels and I think whether you’re a coach or a board member, really anyone in a leadership role in an organization. It’s good to have an understanding of our own biases.


We all have them, and understanding these or being aware of them can really help us all lead and communicate in a very different way in a better way.


OK, so let’s just jump right in.


The first bias is called the confirmation bias. This is where you perceive evidence that confirms your beliefs and disconfirms someone else’s.


This is either using new evidence as a confirmation of your point of view or believing something is true because you want it to be true.


So, this could be that you have a mindset that someone is lazy, and this is a pretty common theme, no matter if you’re a coach or work in any office environment. There’s usually people who think that someone else on the team is pretty lazy.


You see everything that this person does as inadequate or just not measuring up and the measuring up is usually the culprit for this. We view things from our own perspective, right?


So, because someone doesn’t do things as we would do them, or up to our own expectations or even pace. Well then, they’re lazy. When actually they just work differently than we do.


Now I’m not saying that there aren’t lazy people out there, but if you’re a leader in your organization, make sure that you truly understand what is happening and honestly be open to the concept that people work differently than you do. The most important factor is if they live up to the roles responsibilities.


The second one is availability bias. This was a new one on me. I’d never heard of this before.


Availability bias is making a decision or relying on information based on what we can recall or what’s available to our conscious mind rather than the facts.


The easiest example of this one is the news today. Just because the four channels in the news present something whatever salacious, doesn’t mean that it’s true or completely true.


That’s like trying to find something on the Internet to solve a problem, and you just take the first thing that comes up as gospel.


Maybe on items that matter, we should do a bit of due diligence and look into things deeper and view answers from many different sources instead of taking the easy way out that you know may not be right.


The third perception bias is blind spot bias. This is where you’re able to see the biases in others and not yourself.


This one is quite interesting because there’s a study from Boston University that showed most people have no idea how biased they actually are and that we believe the people around us are more biased than we are.


Our ability to perceive bias in ourselves is pretty awful. This one is a bit harder to work through because how do we solve for something that we aren’t aware that we’re doing?


So, my thought is usually we have one or two people in our lives that will kind of call us on our mess, right?


Maybe instead of dismissing them, we actually take stock in what was said, even if it’s from someone who you don’t really feel like they have a place to say anything, or that you respect very much, OK?


One of the ways this shows up in work is through hiring practices. We tend to hire or promote people who will agree with us or work in the same way that we do. Whether we consciously do this or not, it’s a common thing.


Having someone who challenges our thoughts is not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, it can lead to some pretty amazing outcomes. Difference of thought doesn’t have to equate to not being able to work together.


The 4th perception is the Halo effect. This is where our overall impression of someone influences how we feel and think about their character.


This belief is because you know, maybe they’re positive or successful in one area and you just assume that they’re going to be likely to succeed in other areas.


Often this is just simply where we judge a person’s qualities based on unrelated attributes like their physical appearance.


As an example, we’ve all experienced assuming because someone is dressed really professionally that they have a higher status or higher in the workplace than the person who’s wearing a t-shirt.


I had an experience where about 20-plus years ago, so I was in my 30s. When I went to a restaurant with a client here in Dallas and the front area was just a bit of a mess, it was a flurry, and the person trying to seat us was really flustered trying to sort the tables.


Who was going to go where, and my client was just absolutely obnoxious about the whole thing.


At the end of the dinner, we were given desserts on the House by the owner for our patients, right, which made me chuckle because there is, you know, really absolutely no patience involved.


But anyhow, he insisted on seeing and thanking the owner. You know, dismissing the waiter to go run and fetch the owner. The owner was the person who was trying to see this.


She had several staff call in sick, which is why she was flustered. So, the assumption is that the Hostess and the waiter for that matter are less important than the owner.


I’ll never forget that night. It kind of made me laugh all the way home after dropping them off, so.


OK, the last two perception biases #5 is false consensus. This is where we believe that how we think is normal and then others think the same way that our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are typical of the everyday average person.


How I often see this transpire within organizations is that managers or leaders assume that they know what their people want, because after all they want what I want or I want for them, right?


Another example is just because we get along really well, you know, or you and I are talking and things are going really, really well that people assume that I often have the same political beliefs or religious beliefs or whatever beliefs as they do.


I think the lesson here is that it’s a good thing that everyone has their own beliefs and attitudes. Just don’t assume that theirs matches yours, and I often find that’s a good thing.


For me, I found when I talked to my team what I assumed they needed wasn’t always right. So, I always made it a point to have a check-in and confirm my thoughts.


The last one is the transparency bias. This is where we overestimate how much our thoughts are transparent to others or visible to others.


We’ve probably all seen memes about how we judge people. You know, it’s that picture where what we assume we know about a person is a giant circle versus what we actually know about them is that little, teeny tiny circle in the picture.


Well, this is the same logic, just in reverse. We can’t assume people know what we’re thinking and feeling. This is the biggest reason why there are disagreements, whether it’s personal or professional.


I remember I had two people on my team who just could not get along. It seemed like no matter what new project or activity came along they were just always at odds, one day against the recommendation on my boss.


I put them both in a room with me to just hash it out. Basically, I told them it has to end, and it was dragging the team down and frankly, I was getting tired of it, so I facilitated a conversation that allowed them to share what their latest issue was.


And really, what it all came down to was the fact that they assumed each other understood their position, meaning their role, and just that they were being combative, so when we sat down and had that exercise of explaining why each side felt the way they did, you know, giving them the space to express their feelings and why they did things or worked in the way that they did.


It was kind of like a really giant light bulb when they understood where the other person was coming from.


So as a leader, you can’t assume that everyone knows what’s going on in your head and then be offended when you feel they are being dismissive or contrarian. The responsibility lies with you to explain and make them aware.


So, I hope these perception biases made sense to you and give you something to think about as a leader in your organization.


I also wanted to tell you about one of my all-time favorite books. I may have already brought this up before, but I’m going to say it again.


It’s called Leadership and Self-deception by the Arbiter Institute. This book is along the same principles of viewing the world from our own bias, but it tells them in a story format.


So, it’s a learning tool for leaders, but told a story so you can relate, and it’s a pretty amazing book that I got through in like 2 days. And I’m not someone who reads really easily.


Honestly, I have to force myself to read purposely every day, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I read it quickly and I’d highly recommend that you go and find it.


All right, well, thank you for listening today. Please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast so more people can find us.


We really appreciate you. Also, you can always find more resources and tools, and articles that will help you and your club on yoursportsresource.com, thanks for spending time with me.