Responding to Bias: Strategies and Skills

Read the JAMA article


Then read this post from XYZ


Tools for Responding to Bias

Goal: Communicate a message of disapproval without damaging interpersonal relations

Be ready 

Rehearse what you would do or say in situations before they occur

You know what feels most natural for you

Remember the Bystander effect

No one else will probably say anything

Consider saying something, even if it is a small effort

Decide whether to say anything 

Silence is often interpreted as passive complicity

Consider saying something simple like “that’s not cool” or “I don’t appreciate that”

You don’t have to take a dramatic stand if you’re not comfortable or not able

Consider taking more time if:

You know you respond badly in the heat of the moment

You fear retaliation or mistreatment and need more support

The situation is not appropriate (ie during a patient care emergency)

Stay calm 

Try to speak calmly, or consider waiting until another time

Try to avoid inducing defensiveness

Clarify or Restate what was said  

Make sure you are understanding what was said

Make the speaker think about what they said

“So I am hearing you say….” Or even “excuse me, what was that you just said?”

If a joke was made, ask the speaker to explain it to you

When identifying the behavior, avoid labeling, name-calling or the use of loaded terms. Describe the behavior; don’t label the person.

 Appeal to principles 

“I’m surprised to hear you say that.  I think of you as more… (egalitarian, open-minded, etc).”

Change the subject (more effective than it sounds) 

You may not change beliefs but you may change behavior

Reflect on what happened 

Journaling or meditation

Debriefing with a peer or college mentor

 It’s never too late to bring it up 

Defer until later: “let’s talk about this when we have more time”

Bring it up later: “I’ve been thinking about what you said last week…”

Don’t get discouraged 

You won’t know the lasting impact you’ll have later on, both for the speaker and those who were present

Know your resources 

College mentors and college heads

Other trusted faculty

Student Affairs office

Traps to Avoid: Avoid making light of any comments, making jokes (which often backfire!), or getting defensive