Eden Hare
4 min readSep 20, 2023

We all make assumptions. We assume something will happen, and we make plans around that assumption. Some call it hope. “Let’s assume it will rain this afternoon and take the umbrella”, could also be “Let’s hope it doesn’t rain, but we will take the umbrella just in case”.

Some of us might call it “good planning”, “hoper-groping”, “plan for the worst, hope for the best”. Or is it that we are unsure and unwilling to take a gamble?

A risk.

Is it experience influencing our actions: “the sky is overcast, and a very dark gray. The last time I saw this it rained for hours.”. Can we be wrong? Yes. We could be correct too.

Or is it bias? Maybe even unconscious bias.

Bias is, according to the Merrimack-Webster dictionary “an inclination of temperament or outlook,” and “a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : PREJUDICE”.

Prejudice is a strong word. When you haven’t had your first cup of coffee, it can be hard to type.

Bias occurs when we decide something is different than we are, and we choose to act on that bias by treating someone differently because of it. The real problem is our unconscious bias. The only difference is, we make a conscious decision to behave differently in the former, and do it without thinking in the latter. And unconscious bias is more insidious, because we may not even realize we are doing it, even though others are.

Unconscious bias lies at the root of many assumptions, especially about people. In my opinion, unconscious bias is the root of prejudice: we have opinions and decisions made before we even meet the other person. For example, when we see someone in a wheelchair, do we act differently around them as a result? Do we assume they are not as able or as smart as we are just because they are in a wheelchair? Maybe you said “no” to that example, but I guarantee you are thinking of one similar to that where yo do behave differently.

All of us have unconscious bias. We learned it. Things like:

  • people with lots of tattoos are evil;
  • left handed people are weird;
  • people with disabilities are less able and need more help to make it in the world;
  • people who are different from me are just wrong;
  • people who can sing are smarter;
  • blond women are inherently dumb; or
  • pretty women are great partners.

Some of those sound familiar? We plan an event in our head with that person, and when it doesn’t happen that way, or some other physical or character “flaw” is revealed, we immediately jump to a conclusion, we can no longer be friends, or we forever treat them differently.

When you just do it; that is unconscious bias.

So, Eden, what do I do?

Be aware! When you realize you are “passing judgement” on a person, ask why! Is it skin color? How they dress? They words and expressions they say? Hair color? Gender? Perceived gender? Sexual orientation? Tattoos and piercings? There are many more questions!

Then decide: if it was you — if you had those physical or character traits you find “bad”, and someone treated you inn the same way you would treat that person, will you like it? I am going to bet, probably not. Rarely does anything good come out of unconscious bias.

You then have to start unlearning the bias — unlearning those characteristics that automatically make them bad. For example, the assumption that people with tattoos are bad. Maybe ask them about what a tattoo means. (I have six visible tattoos by the way, and all have a very special meaning.). Maybe recognize that just because you would never get a tattoo and don’t understand why anyone else would — doesn’t make them (or me) a bad person.

Obviously, I focused on one specific example, but I keep coming back to the “Golden Rule” when it comes to removing bias in our world:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

In other words, if you are going to be rude and disrespectful to people because you can, then don’t be surprised or offended, when they do it to you.

I said to a friend last night — in a different context, but this example applies: you fall in love with your favorite candy bar because of the wrapper. The candy company changes the wrapper and now you hate it. What did you actually like? Did you just assume the candy changed and you would hate it because the wrapper is different? Or did you realize the candy is the same, great thing you love, and the wrapper is just the package?

Fall in love with the candy; not the wrapper.



Eden Hare

Eden is the co-author of seven books and author of more than 100 articles and book chapters in technical, management, and information security publications.