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6 ways for woman-owned brands to avoid confirmation bias

This could be dangerous, putting this all out here in a post like this, but here goes nothing.  

Before you read another word, you’ve got to pinky swear and sailor swear that you won’t evereverever leak a word of this to anyone who carries a badge.  

Deal?  

Good. Let’s delve in for some story time.  

Once upon a time >> approximately one week ago << my husband came flying into my office and handed me a stack of insurance papers.  

“Babe, can you tell me where the Mazda is on that policy?” he asked me.  

Let me introduce you to the Mazda –> the car we bought back in 2017. 

The car that survived a harrowing collision with a deer when my just-new-driver daughter was driving home late one night.  

The car that had been pulled over by a State Highway Patrolman when I traveled to Ohio for a funeral (For reasons unknown to me, he collected my license AND my insurance, and then completely let me off the hook. If you’re from Ohio, you know that these law enforcement officers NEVER let you off the hook. EVER.)  

And the car that had been pulled over again when my husband was wearing his seatbelt but the officer didn’t think he was (again. . . no ticket).  

The Mazda, I think, is magic. 

Let me be even more clear. The Mazda, I know, is magic.  

And I know this because when I searched those insurance papers to find where our Mazda was listed, there wasn’t even a trace of our magic car.  

Three years.

Thousands of miles.

And our car wasn’t insured for a single one of those trips.  

It didn’t matter HOW it happened. We felt like the dumbest people IN THE WORLD.  

Now, we know that when we bought this car, we made contact with our insurance agent, but something fell through the cracks and the car never got added to our policy.

Year after year, we got our updated policy in the mail, and never once did we notice that the insurance cards failed to actually list the Mazda (you know, the cards you put in your car in case you actually NEED to cash in on your insurance???)  EGG. ON. OUR. FACE.  

“Are we EVEN equipped to be raising children?” I asked my husband.  

Within minutes, our agent had us covered. (And let me emphasize–> In no possible way is this HIS fault. We were the ones who should have followed up. Texting “hey, we need this car insured” is not a fool-proof form of communication, it turns out.)  

But the lesson for this 42-year-old business owner and her 44-year-old husband was B.I.G.  

OUR BRAINS CONFIRMED WHAT OUR MINDS AND HEARTS WANTED TO BELIEVE. 

 In the world of psychology, this is called confirmation bias. (Enter the Venn Diagram, please.)  

 
You see, while we live in a world with objective facts, we also live in the world as humans who have all sorts of ideas and beliefs and experiences.

And boy, oh boy, are those ideas + beliefs + experiences powerful.

In fact, look up the word saboteur in the trusty old Webster’s Dictionary, and I’m pretty sure you’ll find those 3 words right beside it. 

If you live in a world of magic cars like I do, then you might be able to skirt by the repercussions of confirmation bias.

But if you don’t. . . then this means that you’ve got to be vigilantly aware of the fact that you simply cannot be trusted.

None of us can. 

Our brains aren’t as reliable as we think.  

Or maybe we just aren’t as smart as we think.  

I don’t know what it is, but I do know that if you want to avoid catastrophe (in your home, in your relationships, in your marketing), then you’ve got to snuggle up close to the reality of confirmation bias. 

I have it. 

You have it. 

We all have it. 

And the only way around it is to expose it as the dirty, rotten scoundrel that it is and build a watch tower to keep a lookout for its tricks.  

I could write a book on ALL the ways to expose and overcome confirmation bias, but this email is already getting long, so let me give you ONE trick. It’s called the Six Thinking Hats (thanks Edward de Bono from 1985).  

Using the * novel * idea that the MORE perspectives you gain, the more wise and prudent you’ll become. . . the Six Thinking Hats encourages you to take yourself through the six different styles of thinking.  

> White Hat: What does the data say, and what can you learn from that data to inform your decision?  

> Red Hat: What does your gut + intuition + emotion say? And how might others be emotionally affected by this?  

> Black Hat: What are the possible negative outcomes of your thinking and how can you fix those gaps?  

> Yellow Hat: What are the benefits and positives of your thinking?  

> Green Hat: What are the craziest, wildest, most creative possibilities?  

> Blue Hat: What is the type of thinking needed most? (This is the control hat. . . so if you’re leading a meeting or a group, this might be the hat you need to wear in order to encourage varied perspectives and thinking.)  

The point is clear, right?

The more you can think through a situation from ALL VANTAGE POINTS, the less likely you are to fall into the trap of confirmation bias.  

Try it the next time you’re tuning into your favorite news channel or having that conversation with your least favorite person in the world.  (I, for one, know that I’ll never look at another insurance policy WITHOUT implementing this step first.)