Keep bias out of the workspace

We all remember that snot-nosed teacher’s pet from elementary school: answering all the questions and stealing all the attention from the rest of the class. Well this translates well into adulthood both in the workplace and in college classroom. Favoritism is fairly common in the workplace and in schools after all, everyone has their biases no matter how objective you think you are. However, people need to learn how to downplay these biases because it can cause tension.

This is applicable to most situations and life in general; sports, family and relationships, but it seems to be most prevalent in school and areas of work.

Favoritism in the classroom can make for a toxic environment by preventing other students from getting the attention they need. It seems counterproductive to spend time on students who don’t need your help or support. Time is better spent giving as much personalized attention as possible to all your students rather than chatting with your “faves” during lab hours about how you both like Starbucks and romantic comedies.

For those of us who work, it’s fairly simple to tell who the boss has picked as their right hand employees. It doesn’t bother everyone but some end up feeling unappreciated for the work they do. An employer’s job doesn’t necessarily involve catering to the emotional needs of their workers, but it’s unfair to praise certain individuals while ignoring the hard work of others.

Some students can turn in late work and get away with it while other students are scolded. Some workers come in late and get a slap on the wrist, other employees might be written up for these infractions. As an instructor or manger of any body of people, you must learn how to dole out equal punishments even for those you place a higher value on.

There are those who have easier personalities to deal with — it isn’t imperative to get along with everyone in the same way. The important thing to remember is to at least make an effort to treat everyone the same. If they care about being close to you they’ll understand if you have to tell them about something they did wrong; even though they won’t want to hear it.

For those of you dealing with nepotism-prone employers and professors, understand that it isn’t personal. Sometimes people aren’t aware their bias is showing. If you are the one receiving special treatment, keep in mind that other people need encouragement as well — everything isn’t about you. Also, stop counting on your superior to let you off easy just because they think you’re the bee’s knees.

For those of you causing the divide however, keep in mind you could be ignoring the potential of certain students or employees. Try and keep your personality bias out of the way of teaching or supervising those who work for you.