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  • Writer's pictureVinayak Jawalkar

The impact of unconscious bias in communication: How our stories shape (and hinder) our conversations


The impact of unconscious bias in communication: How our stories shape (and hinder) our conversations

Have you ever experienced a feeling of repetitive communication at work or home?


It might be because you’re holding onto pre-written narratives.


Effective communication involves listening and engaging with others, rather than just expressing your viewpoint.


As adults, we all carry around internal stories–pre-formed judgments and expectations about others–that unconsciously steer our interactions.


Why the stories?


Our experiences influence how we perceive and interact with the present.


If someone consistently behaves a certain way, it reinforces our pre-existing narrative.


Even in situations that deviate from the norm, our unconscious mind actively seeks evidence that supports our original interpretation.


Fear of being wrong hinders openness to new perspectives.

Genuine curiosity about the other person allows us to challenge our stories, but entrenched opinions often masquerade as truth.


The filter of narrative


Once we have a story about someone, it acts as a filter, distorting our interactions.


Conversations become validation exercises, not discovery.


We seek “evidence” to confirm our existing narrative, missing the opportunity to uncover a different truth.


We’re caught in a cycle of our own making.


The impact of unconscious bias in communication


However, the impact of unconscious bias in communication can significantly distort these narratives.


You might believe someone dislikes new ideas because of an experience.


Subconsciously seeking confirmation, you interpret every interaction through this lens, creating a barrier to future communication.


Breaking free requires awareness of these internal narratives and the biases that shape them.


Bias related to race, gender, or age can lead to misinterpretation and overlook strengths.


Unconscious bias: The silent judge


Through everyday interactions, we form judgments automatically.


We judge our colleagues, family members, and even strangers, without a second thought.


These biases influence our perceptions, even though they are not intentional, and contribute to forming inaccurate narratives.


Open communication breaks the cycle


Open communication is more than just fluency.


Even skilled communicators can get stuck in their narratives.


Preconceived notions create poor listeners.


To be open, we must recognise the biases that shape our stories.


Awareness empowers you to see past these self-imposed limitations.

Countless reasons might hold you back, but true transformation requires taking the initiative.


These stories don’t exist in isolation–they influence every interaction.


Promoting a culture of openness


You can talk openly and avoid judgments.


Recognise the story you’re telling.


See others with fresh eyes.


Let go of internal stories to have genuine connection and communication.


 

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