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Thoughts on complaints and perceptions of bias

Recently I read of an analysis by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) into the complaints they received about political bias in news reporting.  The BBC have a stated aim to be unbiased in their reporting of news, so they do investigate claims of such bias.  The results of the analysis revealed that there was pretty much an even split between those complaining of left-wing bias, as there were of those complaining of right-wing bias. This seemed puzzling, other than to add to the belief that more people are willing to complain about what they don’t like, rather than complement what they do.

I started to think about this finding in terms of the thinking styles which might be at work in those submitting complaints of bias. I wonder if what’s happening is that people don’t notice the things that they agree with because when we agree with a point a view, we start Matching and feel comfortable. However, when we are listening to something that we disagree with, we start Mis-matching and so notice how many things seem wrong to us and which therefore cause us some discomfort.  In this way we become more aware of those items with which we disagree than of those which we find easy to listen to because of our agreement with them.

So, my theory on the BBC’s findings are that many people only notice those articles with which they disagree because Mis-matching generates feelings of discomfort which are absent they are Matching. As a result, some perceptions of bias will be the product of the observer’s thinking style rather than of the article itself.

I think this observation can help when working with clients who are experiencing stress and frustration with other people with whom they disagree.  In coaching, if we can encourage such clients to move into a Matching meta programme, and so to see areas of either agreement or of differences which could be used to complement their own thinking, then conflict resolution and better co-operative working might be achieved.

The team profile MindSonar exercise does this well for teams in which conflicts might exist.  Might it also be useful in more domestic settings too? I wonder if any family therapists out there would be interested in giving it a try?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this subject – perhaps there are other meta programmes at play too.  Let me know in the comments box below…

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