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Stereotyping of out-groups: Strategies

We've already given some examples of the stereotyping of out-groups. In this article, we'll offer some suggestions to help mitigate this symptom.

In groupthink theory, stereotyping doesn’t necessarily refer only to the kinds of cultural stereotyping we often see in our daily lives.

It also, and more specifically, refers to stereotyping of an out-group by an in-group.

For instance, if your team works on a project in isolation over a few weeks, it’s very easy for those on the team to exclusively identify with the apparent needs of the group.

If their work receives criticism from an out-group, the in-group is likely to close ranks:

‘They’re not a part of the project, so they don’t understand how it works.’

1. Mingle

To prevent an in-group/out-group mentality from ever taking hold, ensure that different people from different departments get the chance to mingle.

Make sure that no one team feels isolated from any other, including senior leadership from the rest.

In companies, senior leadership often try to present an image of superiority to enhance their authority.

However, enforcing an image of superiority is the least effective way to enforce authority.

Get to know as many names as you can. Learn about people. Practice genuine interest in their stories, influences and interests.

2. Immersion

It’s difficult for the stereotyper to even realise they are stereotyping.

One of the most effective ways to reveal and remove our stereotypes is to immerse ourselves in the lives of the people and cultures we risk stereotyping.

For example, lots of work has been done to combat poverty in the UK. However, many of the recommendations come from those who have absolutely no experience of it.

Instead of basing our decisions on assumptions we hold, we should engage with the very people they are likely to affect.

If we oppose a criticism, the best way to apply our own argument is to understand why the opposition holds their beliefs.

3. Increase diversity

Most people are indeed going to take a stereotypical view of many other people and industries. The single best way to combat this in our teams is to hire more diverse team members.

When stereotypes crop up in homogenous environments, it’s unlikely that anyone in those environments will challenge them.

However, it’s much more difficult to stereotype when the subject of your potentially stereotypical assumptions is an equal member of your team.

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Groupthink: Understanding the Need for a Diverse Workplace

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