He was waiting for me for the last 1 hours. Of course, I was late for the dinner because of the traffic. My judgement about reaching the hotel went wrong. He must be upset as I requested him to meet to discuss the important issue. He agreed in spite of having an early morning flight to fly to Delhi the next day. I reached the hotel. He was waiting for me. I apologized for reaching late and started giving the explanation.
“My bad luck, today the traffic was terrible.” I said apologetically.
“Pune is known for its bad traffic, isn’t?” He asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“It is routine for Punekars now to be in the traffic and face the same.” He
“……….” I just smiled.
“So why use this as an excuse? We know that traffic will always derail your plans. Isn’t it wise to plan for considering the bad traffic?”
“Hmm, I agree.” I couldn't agree more.
“By the way don’t worry, I am not upset with you. Just wanted to explain to you that we should accept the fact and consider that fact while deciding our action.”
“This is a general behaviour of human beings to attribute things.”
“Means?” I asked.
“Attribution is the way in which we determine the cause of our own or other’s behaviour.”
“Explain in more detail.”
“What you did now, you are late… and you attributed it to the traffic. So here coming late is your behaviour, but you think that this is because of the traffic”
“But that is the reality.” I said,
“No, we tend to explain our own actions in terms of circumstances and attribute the actions of others to character flaws; the reverse is true when the results are positive.” He explained further.
“I understand attributing the cause of our action to circumstances or situations like bad traffic. But how is it related to the actions of others?” I asked my doubt.
“Take an example of an employee who has not completed the task. Generally what excuses he gives?”
“The employee may say that he didn’t get the cooperation from his manager, or the team was not supportive. He may blame the processes, culture and anything which is not in his favour.” I replied.
“Exactly, there you are.”
Meanwhile, the waiter served our drinks. While he was serving, we took a pause. He refilled our wine glasses and went back.
‘Cheers.” We raise the glasses.
“This is also a cognitive bias, right?” I spoke.
“Absolutely right. People create their own ‘subjective reality’ from their perception of the input. An individual’s construction of reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behaviour in the world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.”
“True, and there may be different things in life, we perceive based on our perception and make our opinions about the people.”
“Yes, when we attribute the behaviour based on the dressing style of the next person, his background, culture and many more.”
“Hmm. How to overcome this?” I asked,
‘Simple, first start recognizing these things, these biases, the attributions we relate.”
Then he took the tissue paper and he started scribing with the pen.
He explained the process as under:
Recognize and Realise: Recognise that these are biases and present in each individual. You encounter a lot of people and they may also attribute something with your behaviour.”
Challenge your narratives: Our brain creates story. If a new employee attends office in casuals, you will attribute that he is not serious about the job. Challenge this story. You are late because of traffic is another story, but reality is you have not planned your drive well.``
Verify your narrative: For example, instead of judging the person about the attire he wears, check his attitude and his performance. Verify the facts instead of making opinions.
Stop giving excuses: Finally, think about what you can do to influence instead of thinking about the circumstances and behaviour of others.
“This is excellent learning. I will definitely try to implement it in my life.” I replied.
Next 2 hours, we were into a deep discussion managing the restructuring in the organization.