Tag archive: stereotype-as-assumption
How Stereotypes Create Work Barriers
This stereotyping at work applies to many occupations. Medical doctors fail to listen to nurses and technicians whose proximity to the patient provides insights that the doctor, skilled as he or she may be, may not have. I have attended meetings where the words of salespeople, closer than anyone to the marketplace, were dismissed because they were only “low-level salespersons.” This casual dismissal of potentially important information would have been more difficult to do if they had been sales directors or vice presidents. In that case they would have been heard. Nobody at the meeting could afterward remember that they have been told by the salesperson that the customer had warned that the product line was in jeopardy because a competitor would soon be offering a superior product. Had we in charge listened better to that salesperson and acted quickly, the big account and product line might have been saved. In today’s global economy those closer to the frontier of change may know much more about what is going on than the chief executive officer. They have the information we need to know to survive, whatever their position in the organization or job title. Few people take the time to learn about the actual work those alongside us do. We make assumptions based on their job titles that never tell the real story. This is especially difficult in the digital age where so much of what we do cannot be observed. Output is invisible. Work done by a team member today may not be recognized as successful until the project ends years from now. No job description or title can tell the story. Dig deeper to gain a more full understanding of what your co-workers really do. Job titles and the stereotypes they create inhibit communication unless we dig deeper. The more we know about the work associates actually do and the more they know of ours the easier it will be to settle difference and make sound decisions. It will also help in building rapport and stronger long-term relationships. People generally enjoy talking about what they do if asked in a non-judgmental and casual manner.Read more »
Stereotypes and business negotiations
Human beings are prone to stereotyping—that is, making generalized assumptions about individuals or groups. Thefreedictionary.com defines stereotype as “a conventional, formulaic and oversimplified conception, image or opinion.” Sometimes, stereotypes derive from a real situation or experience, but are then applied without regard for the individual or current situation. For instance, there is a stereotype that Asians are math whizzes or that men are better drivers than women. Gender stereotypes are particularly widespread. Assumptions such as “women are more pliable” or “men are more aggressive” can certainly backfire during a negotiation. In the article “Gender Stereotyping: A Key Barrier,” the authors argue that gender stereotyping about women in leadership position has made it difficult for women to move up through the ranks. A 2007 survey is cited and says:Read more »
The report argued that gender stereotyping results in organizations routinely underestimating and under utilizing women's leadership talent. The 2006 Catalyst Census shows that while women make up over 50 per cent of management, professional and related occupations, only 15.6 per cent of Fortune 500 corporate officers and 14.6 per cent of Fortune 500 board directors were women.International negotiations may be affected by stereotypes that team members hold about certain ethnic groups. The article “The Power of Stereotypes” from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard University, says:
…seasoned negotiators often hear stories about the unethical behaviors of people of other nationalities. … Ambiguity can lead us to reach sinister conclusions about the motives of our counterparts, particularly when we lack a solid understanding of an opponent’s culture.The article goes on to say:
we tend to overuse the stereotypes that arise from these small differences, and these stereotypes block us from noting important individuating information. Thus, we too often act as if the person on the other side of the table represents the cultural stereotype we’re expecting.Although stereotypes are not always negative, they can often be wrong and can lead a negotiation off on a bad path. Because a stereotype is an assumption, it should always be tested. Are you generalizing or is this particular idea or thought valid for this situation and person? Have you ever been derailed by holding a stereotype during a negotiation? Please share your experiences in the comments.