What can you learn about inclusion from a rat?

This is the first episode of my series “Inclusive leadership habits”.
Today’s habit is “Going beyond first impressions”. You’ll learn why first impressions are misleading and what you can do about it.
If you like this video you will love my book “How to be an inclusive leader”, it’ll be published in February 2017 and it will available on Amazon.

Video Transcription

Hi everybody my name is Thais Compoint and this is a very special video for me. This is the very first episode of my series “Inclusive Leadership Habits”. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

In case you were wondering what is an inclusive leader, the way I see it, an inclusive leader is someone who’s very good at getting the most out of his or her team because he or she really knows how to manage human differences effectively. Inclusive leaders they know how to inspire people, men and women from different cultures, different generations, different life style with different abilities.

Today’s inclusive leadership habit is “going beyond first impressions”.

It’s very important if you want to be or already are an inclusive leader to practice this. Always go beyond first impressions. Why? because first impressions are very misleading.

Do you know how long it takes for your unconscious mind to form an opinion about a stranger? Well I always thought it was three seconds but it actually is much shorter than this: it only takes a tenth of a second.

As this is a very short time you obviously form a subjective opinion. Two things you should be aware of is that we tend to form positive opinion about people who are just like us, that is called the affinity bias. And once you form an opinion an opinion about someone you tend to scan the reality to confirm your initial impression bout someone. That’s called confirmation bias.

There’s an experiment with little rats that illustrates in a simple way how the confirmation bias works. I read about that experiment a long time ago and that’s how it works: so basically, students were told to observe the behaviour of little rats that are trying to get out of a labyrinth. Half of the students were told that the rats were very smart and the other half were told that they were very stupid, very dumb. It’s amazing how the two groups of students interpreted the rat’s behaviour in totally different ways. When the little rat was there, choosing an exit, the students that were told the rat was very smart believed that it was a proof of how intelligent the rat was because he stopped, paused and reflected about the decision he was about to take. The half that were told the rat was stupid thought that this behaviour was the proof of the rat’s stupidity, they thought that he was so stupid that he could not make up his mind about which exit to take. So that shows us that it is very important to go beyond the first impressions.

To sum up, we make our opinion on people very quickly, we usually have a more favourable point of view of people who are just like us and we tend to have a very biased analysis of what happens afterwards.

Now that you know this what can you do? I think the very first thing is to be aware of first impressions, make a note, a mental note, or a written note to be aware of these first impressions and the next thing to do is to train yourself to go beyond these first impressions.

I’ll share with you a personal experience, something that happened to me not long ago. I love meeting different people peers and other consultants. I was meeting this person in Paris and as soon as I saw him I was judgemental. In my mind about him:” oh look at the way he is dressed, he looks so conservative “. And I could picture him, in a very traditional bourgeois, very catholic family in Paris, Rive Gauche, Versailles. For those of you who are from France you might know what I’m talking about. And actually, I realised, I was aware and I told myself to be open and non-judgemental and that was the best thing I could have done because that guy had a life story and a career that were completely non-conventional.

So, first impressions can be very misleading, go beyond first impressions!

That’s it for today, that was the very first inclusive leadership habit that I wanted to talk about. If you enjoyed this video like it, share it and share with us also your tips and tactics for going beyond first impressions and other inclusive leadership habits that you are already practicing.

If you liked this video you will love my book “How to be an inclusive leader”, it’ll be published in February 2017 and it will available on Amazon.

Thank you very much for watching and I hope to see you in next episode. Until then embrace differences and make a difference! Bye!

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