“Objectivity breeds professionalism”- 9 February 2016

She was a difficult boss to handle, Mr. D. had decided in the last few months he joined the company. She was demanding which was fine with him for he was meticulous too in his work and did it with diligence. But for some reason she seemed to be biased towards him he had begun to feel. In spite of all his best efforts in the right direction she always seemed to be irritated with him. He tried to find out from his colleagues but they were silent for he was relatively new to the company and she was a highly respected senior. His frustrations were growing and so were his perceptions being influenced by this unsavoury experience of his. He was stuck in a position of powerlessness and could not find a way out. He was becoming equally biased against her as she seemed to be against him. The cycle of dislike and negative bias was getting completed.

Ms. M. was thoroughly smitten by her boss. He threw his charms around all his colleagues and especially with the female colleagues and had them eating from his palm. M was particularly fond of him and found her-self becoming attached to him emotionally. The others warned her of her emotions which were becoming obvious by the day but she could not help herself she said. She tried her best she exclaimed but nothing seemed to work. She was getting isolated from her colleagues for they became irritated with her while being secretly jealous too. She was positively biased with her boss and could hear nothing against him. She was a devoted lamb who followed him around.

Take another example. Ms. P. admired her boss for his many qualities he displayed. She was almost in awe of him and that remained for quite some time until it burst one day. She saw a mean side of him and her heart broke. How could such a man behave like this she questioned herself? She still admired him for his intellect and his passion for his work. He was impeccable and rational and seemed unbiased towards all his team. This made him a fair minded boss with good humanitarian values. Until she saw his darker side so to say. She began having a love and hate relationship with him. She loved him for the good he did and hated him for the bad he displayed.

Cognitive processes go on in the mind consciously and unconsciously as well all the time while we interact with people and the environment we live in and work in. These cognitive processes are not necessarily logical and rational but get laced with emotions and get interpreted by the past experiences and memories. This process of interpreting data in the form of stimuli that impact us is a continuous process of the mind. The past biases and prejudices already prevalent in mind get attached to these new experiences and extend the bias to the new person who is actually innocent. This illogical effect needs to be made aware in the minds of people as then only they will be able to check it and stop it from damaging our new relationships.

Take the first example, D. Never understood what his new lady boss had against him. She seemed to be harbouring a bias against him which came from her past experience. The possibilities are many. She may have had another candidate in her mind for the position which he grabbed by his merit. Two, his physical appearance or his mannerisms might be reminding her of someone she disliked or was jealous of. Thirdly, his competency might be making her insecure that he was better than her and was young too and might displace her soon. She might be losing the grip on her work due to her advancing age. The youngsters are always smarter and quicker and more competent in technological matters. There are many explanations for her behaviour but these are only hypothetical. Similarly all the examples mentioned could be attempted to be explained in such as fashion. The fact is that the truth never comes out generally.


The right thing to do at the workplace is to keep as much as possible a neutral and an open mind towards others and the workplace. Developing and harbouring biases and prejudices whether positive or negative, will only create obstacles in the functioning and impact the productivity of the company. Positive prejudices would appear to be helpful in the short term but the perceptions with age and experience are bound to undergo change and hence come to reality. Reality is always a mix of good and bad and people are also part of the same reality. An open and rational mind will help maintain a distance and also help your perceptions. Objectivity can be maintained only in a certain state of mind where the eyes and ears are open and emotions are detached. This is best for professionalism.

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