12@12: Balancing Bias

November 06, 2020 Debbie Hindle Season 2 Episode 2
12@12: Balancing Bias
Show Notes Transcript

Are you feeling the effects of compassion fatigue? Is work draining your energy?

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Join ADCET for our new bite-size podcast sessions. 

These short podcast episodes are taken from our 12@12 session recordings with Debbie Hindle. 

Our second episode Balancing Bias teaches you to balance your built-in negativity bias and focus with perspective, clarity and hope.

Watch the recording and download the presentation here. 

INTRO – Hi everyone, welcome to the ADCET Podcast – supporting you – supporting students. We would like to acknowledge the aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples who are the traditional custodians of the lands on which this recording is taking place and pay our respects to the elder’s past, present and emerging. This podcast is the second from our series of bite-size sessions 12@12 to help you recharge. This session – Balancing Bias teaches you to balance your built-in negativity bias and focus with perspective, clarity and hope. Make sure you check out our show notes for links to the session recording and presentation slides. Enjoy.


DEBBIE HINDLE:  Thank you for joining us again. So, today we're talking about balancing bias. In particular, we're actually talking about our negativity bias. This work comes a lot from the work of Professor Roy Baumeister and also Professor Barbara Frederickson. 
 Our negativity bias, so we are all born - the bad news is we are all born with a negativity bias which means we just notice bad things and they can have up to four times the impact on us than the good things. So we notice them more, we feel them more strongly and they last longer and they are actually pretty fast-tracked into our memory banks. So when something bad happens it doesn't matter if a lot of good things happened during our day, we're more likely to remember the bad things that happen, the negative things. So, it came from our evolution - in times past, there were times it would needed to know there was a saber-tooth tiger outside our cave and take notice of that, but that bias has stuck with us probably for far longer than it's helpful. Simply put, some people say they actually scream the loudest and when they scream the loudest they actually out-shout the good things that are happening. Even when there's lots of positive things in our day, our negativity bias can mean we don't always take notice of them. So think about the times maybe you're not listened to in a meeting, maybe a student feels let down with the service they've got for you or maybe you don't quite say the right thing to someone else and your attention and your thoughts and your feelings about that negative incident can stay with you for the rest of the day, long after what actually happened has been and gone, we're still kind of lingering on to it. So that bias just sticks with us and while we don't want to ignore the negative or the unhelpful, all those difficult emotions we have because they can tell us valuable things, we don't want them to eclipse the good. We don't want them to have more power than what they really deserve. We want to balance out that good also that we see because when we set ourselves up for not balancing it out then we just miss out on all those good things. 
 So, considering how it plays out, I don't know if you want to give some examples on chat about how you see that negative bias playing out but, for example, I often see it playing out on the news. There's lots more negative news events than positive news events. One example that I see in my life too is when - you know if I wake up on the weekend in a bit of a grumpy mood and get annoyed with my partner for not putting away the dishes or not putting away his clothes, if I'm not careful I notice I tend to then see all the things he doesn't do and I get caught up in, "You don't do that and you don't do that," and I might miss that he mightn't have put away the dishes but he spent a couple of minutes checking in how I was or spending time looking after our garden so I got caught up in the negative bias about the relationship. 
 What else have other people put in chat?  I can't see chat today because I'm sharing my screen. That's an interesting thing, we will have to look at that next time. So, they can come also - they play out sometimes when we're evaluating our own work. We might notice all the things that we don't do. I know when I was an NDCO and I had to do my annual work plan I would get depressed like, "I haven't done that and that," and I'd forget the great things I had done and had achieved. 
 We can get caught in the negativity bias when we're looking at other people that we work with and what they've done and haven't done, and when we actually criticise what's not done, we can do that, as I mentioned before with my partner, but we can do that at work, we can get caught up in the trap of criticising what's not done but actually we miss out on all those things that those people do to go that extra mile and do all those extra things. 
 So, simply put, sorry, I have stopped my video and you don't want that. Simply put, our mind is like Velcro for the negative and Teflon for the positive ones. Sorry about that, there were some technical issues here. 
 So, the negative experiences stick to it more strongly and the positive ones can rub off really quickly. So, that's why we need to be intentional about balancing that bias. We're not going to get rid of it completely and it still does keep us safe and keep us on the outlook for things we need to learn from, for things that we need to watch out for, but we just need to be intentional about balancing it so it doesn't get too much air play. We know from anybody who attended last week that our brains actually also work best when we do experience positive emotions. Positive emotions just help our brains work at the best. We're more open to seeing different things, we're better at solving problems, we're better at being creative, we're better at connecting with others and it builds our resilience over time we get better perspective, better clarity and calmness and we're more open when we can experience positive emotions. It is not letting those positive emotions slip by. 
 So, how do we balance it?  What do we do?  One of the classic ways is what we call in the positive psych or www, not the World Wide Web but what went well?  So starting conversations, starting meetings with questions that kind of tap into what went well. What's gone well for you?  And the other thing that is a really great way of balancing it is with a gratitude practice. 
 In fact, gratitude is a bit like a mega strategy for our wellbeing and our resilience. I kind of think of it as a vitamin C. Big dose of vitamin C. Because what went well and what gratitude does, it kind of gets you to start looking for the good things in your life and what is OK, what we do appreciate. Gratitude actually has two parts, the first part is that we notice and we're affirming the good things, the people around you, what we've received from others, how others have supported us. It doesn't mean we ignore our stresses or our strains or our hassles or sadness or negative emotions but it means that we're intentionally looking for the good things and it helps balance that out. The other thing about gratitude is we acknowledge and recognise there are things externally to us that help us in our day so it builds that interconnectedness rather than thinking that everything we need to do on our own. 
 And practice - because we'll all say we're grateful, that we feel gratitude, but do we practise that?  And when I look at the definition of "practice", it's actually an actual application or use of ideas and a method so it is using that and if we can use it every day it balances out our negativity bias, regardless, you know, we just don't leave it to the side. It is good to be grateful, let's put it in practice because people who regularly practise it are more optimistic, more resilient, are more healthier, are more happier, are more successful in their lives and if you want to go the extra mile, when you're grateful for serving others that's like the exemplar position to be in. 
 So some examples of gratitude - so what my team does, I have a team of 23 people and in every team meeting when we meet we start with a gratitude practice so everyone goes around and says one thing they feel grateful for in the moment. So, it might be the weather, they might have had a good day, they might have met with a supervisor because I manage students, they might have met with a supervisor who was really caring and understanding, they might have got a great mark back for an assessment, they might have had a great night with friends or someone was supportive of them. Whatever it is, people share. And what that does, it doesn't only get us to practise gratitude in the moment, that every day then leading up to that meeting the people I work with are looking for things that they can talk about at the meeting - what are they going to bring as their gratitude practice?  
 So practising gratitude gets us to consider what is happening well that I can share and I can use as a practice?  That's why a gratitude journal also works so it's not only in the moment when you're writing things down, it actually gets you looking all through the day, "What can I put in my gratitude journal?  What am I going to be grateful for?  What am I going to start the team meeting with, what grateful thing am I going to talk about?" If you really want to take it to another level a few weeks ago we shared a photo of what we felt grateful for. It took a lot of meeting time but it was a really powerful thing that connected us. 
 So what do you do to practise gratitude in your team, in your family and for you individually?  If you want to share anything that you do at the moment on chat or you can visit our Facebook 12@12 page to chat about it later, sharing what you do to practise gratitude. Remember, it is a practice so we've got to use it, we've got to do it. 
 If you want to make a habit - I've started this really simple, lovely, fun habit to make sure that I practise gratitude regularly. Whenever I stop at traffic lights - so after I stop at the traffic lights when I'm driving along in my car then I'll think of things that I'm grateful for. What I do, because the habit will get into our brain more if we celebrate in the moment so then I laugh at my traffic light antics as I drive off but it gets me regularly practising the gratitude. I also have a regular morning gratitude practice thing. I don't keep a journal but I do have a habit to recall what I'm grateful for and say it out loud so then I start looking during my day for those things I'm grateful for to balance that bias. 


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