Checking your Bias: How to prevent those clumsy, foot-in-mouth moments

There is a general understanding that certain topics should not be discussed over dinner, namely politics and religion. We can indeed avoid certain conversation topics if they have potential to lead to unwanted disagreement between friends and family; but at some point, especially in today’s world, we will undoubtedly find ourselves in a situation where we must participate in a conversation about some of today’s more controversial issues.

Topics such as sexual orientation, religion, race, and gender have for a long time been considered controversial – even taboo – and therefore have often been avoided. As a result, we may have formed opinions but that does not mean we know how to actually talk about these issues with the confidence that we will not accidentally offend someone.  

Have you ever heard someone accidentally, even clumsily talk about a sensitive issue, to the point that they make themselves uncomfortable? In the award-winning British television comedy, The Office, aloof middle manager David Brent is walking around the office with a newly-hired employee introducing him to current employees when he encounters Sanj, a current employee at the office.

David: This is Sanj, this guy does the best Ali G impersonation, Aiiieee. I can’t do it,

go on, do it

Sanj: I don’t, must be someone else

David: Oh, sorry, it’s the other one…

Sanj: The other what… [racist term]?

David: Ah…[quick awkward pause] that’s racist. [David walks away disapprovingly]



In this clip it is revealed that David groups his South Asian employees together in a category in his mind, and in doing so he has confused some of the aspects that actually make these employees unique individuals. This example may seem ridiculous, but there is some truth here. This can happen if we are not keeping our biases in check.

Are you equipped to talk about today’s most sensitive topics without letting bias and stereotypes influence your behavior? Do you want to be? Do you want your team to be?

Are you willing to confront today’s stereotypes head on?

If so, contact us!