What Does Unconscious Bias Have to do With Communication and Relationships?

Happy New Year! Want to improve your relationships and communication this year?


In the 15 years I’ve been studying and teaching communication I’ve come to realize that it’s all about perception. All good communication and relationships start with an accurate perception – a perception about what the person meant by their words &/or actions, i.e., the meaning of the message. How do you know if your perception of someone’s words or behavior is accurate or not? It becomes clear pretty quickly when you get angry, hurt, annoyed, aggravated, offended, insulted, etc… at their words/behavior. It’s safe to say that someone you are in a relationship with, whether it’s a friendship or romantic relationship, is not intentionally being hurtful or malicious, and did not mean to hurt, or anger you, unless, of course, you don’t choose friends/significant others wisely, or you allow yourself to be surrounded by negative, unhealthy people.

Because our perceptions are frequently incorrect, you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Haha. Seriously, checking your perception is necessary to having good communication and good relationships. It also helps you see that your perception of others (and all of the world around you), is just that – a perception and not the “truth” or the only way of seeing/understanding something. There are other possible ways of perceiving someone’s message and behavior and it all depends on …… YOU! Yep, it’s you who makes meaning from someone’s words, non-verbals and behavior, not them.

Good, accurate communication is when the meaning that the person sending the message intended to send is understood by the listener/viewer exactly as the sender meant. If the meaning of messages came strictly from words, we wouldn’t have as much of a problem with miscommunications. But, as you know, we communicate with more than just the words coming out of our mouths. In fact, a large percentage of the meaning of a message comes from the non-verbals. This probably isn’t a surprise to you if you’ve ever had a miscommunication when communicating through text or computer/social media when the other person couldn’t use non-verbals to communicate what they were really trying to say. Thanks to whoever invented emoji’s, that helps a little. 😉 We pick up on someone’s emotion behind the words and focus on that more than their words. Ever asked your friend/significant other if everything’s ok and they say, “fine” but the tone of their voice says otherwise?

Our perception of all of this involves many things that we’re not aware of. It’s unconscious. The definition of bias, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, is “an inclination of … outlook especially : a personal … judgment”. That is what perception essentially is: your outlook and judgement. So, when I talk about unconscious bias, I’m referring to our perception and everything that affects our perception… our beliefs, values, past experiences, etc…

When you are aware of what is controlling how you view the world and others, you can take control of it. And this is the most empowering feeling! You will start to see your communication and relationships change for the better when you become aware of your perception and not let it unconsciously control your reactions to others and the world around you.

In my coaching and workshops, I give people the tools to become aware of their perception and understand what affects it. I also teach how perception affects relationships. If you’re interested in improving your communication and relationships, you can contact me through www.JMJCommunicationGroup.com

I’m teaching a workshop on this through Nashville Community Education on March 21 (for only $20!) if you’re interested in registering…




#communication #relationships #unconsciousbias #improvecommunication #improverelationships #perception


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