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The Apprentice 7: Stereotyping and the benefit of the doubt

17th Jun 2011
Senior Consultant & CEO Track Surveys
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In the Apprentice last night,Lord Sugar made a classic 'gut' decision based on his stereotypical belief about engineers.  Nick Hewer commented later that LS had had a couple of bad experiences with engineers in his time, hence his reluctance to go into business with Glenn Ward.

It's a real-life example of how someone's stereotypes (and we all have them) can be created and then reinforced by our experiences. And as time goes on, we all tend to only notice the examples that support our stereotypical views. Which is OK, unless it affects someone else's career or promotion, and as in Glenn's case, got him fired.

So how do you avoid stereotyping, especially when you're appraising someone's performance or giving 360 Degree Feedback?

Well, being aware that you're doing it is the first step.  Listen and watch out for occasions when you talk about particular groups of people....'they always...', 'they never...', 'typical white van driver/teenager etc...'.

I remember once being dismissive of an expert speaker at an event, and realising that it was I was stereotyping her as less than bright because of her accent.

Once you've built your awareness about your own stereotypes, you can practice thinking about people outside those stereotypes - so not making assumptions about what they're like, or what they do, or how they do it, but stepping back and looking at what they've done specifically, both good and bad, and when in doubt that you're being fair, giving them the benefit of that doubt. 

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