You may have heard this before. Or you may have wondered, “Is this really true, or is this person operating on bias?” Getting tough feedback is challenging. It can be more so if you fall into the trap of assuming bias.

Are people who give feedback biased? Of course they are. We are all biased in some way, and many of us operate with bias without realizing it. The question really isn’t “are they biased?” The question is what are you going to do based on this feedback. You cannot change a person’s bias, and you do have control over your own behavior and reaction.

Reactions to feedback from a 360 or performance review are completely normal. They can range from Shock or Surprise, Anger, Resentment or Resistance and finally Acceptance (spelling SARA, our feedback “friend”). Recognize where you are in terms of your own reaction. Recognize that perceptions, whether based on incomplete information or bias or whatever, are real. While your intentions may be X, the impact may be Y, What does that mean for you moving forward? Make an improvement plan to recognizes the reality of perceptions, even if you feel that they are based on faulty assumptions.

Does this mean that all bias should be ignored? Absolutely not. Do what you can to recognize your own biases. Be an adocate for the organization prioritizing bias awareness and reduction. Set up systems to mitigate biases that cannot be eliminated. It is our job as leaders to ensure that the workplace is safe, inclusive and engaging for all.

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