Values, beliefs, assumptions, and unconscious biases impact our most important decisions. Learn to recognize what drives your behavior and how to harness it for the right work as a lawyer.
The difference between working to survive as a lawyer and working to thrive at it is a question of how effectively you’re adapting. And as a human, you can always learn to adapt better. This post offers the second of five workbooks in our Career Research and Development Series, introduced here.
Before you begin this workbook, we strongly encourage you to complete Workbook 1: Strengths, which will guide you through a SWOT analysis, looking inside and outside to uncover your technical and core strategy, leadership, and communication strengths and opportunities that are worth your time and effort to explore.
This workbook is designed to help you revisit your values, beliefs, assumptions and unconscious biases. They drive your most important decisions and you won’t know that they are behind the wheel. They have a profound effect on what you notice, how you make sense of everything, how you feel, the image you project, and what you ultimately do. Behaviors that either lead you to success or astray often have a genesis in these unconscious blindspots, which cause you to think very quickly. Uncover these blind spots by identifying the circumstances that trigger them and then consciously slow down your thinking. Triggers are often a result of a worldview – a combination of genetics and life-experiences. You’ll uncover your worldview and triggers and learn how to manage them.
You’ll also uncover your hidden values and passion. They tell you about your interests and provide you with a source of energy for overcoming obstacles and charging forward toward your dreams. Your values are the key to what makes you, you and what makes you tick. Your awareness of these hidden drivers of behavior coupled with a well-honed ability to consciously select whether to tap into them or tamp them down as the context in which you lead yourself and others changes, is a profound skill to develop and have in the strengths quadrant of your SWOT analysis.
Blindspots affect what you notice, how you evaluate what you notice, and how you decide what to do. You can uncover blind spots by trying to identify your schema scripts. Schema scripts are short-cuts we rely upon without conscious thought to shorten the time spent on noticing information, making sense of it, and deciding what to do about it. These short cuts are a consequence of a worldview – a combination of genetics and life-experiences. You’ll have a chance to explore your blindspots in more detail through archetype exploration and preferences for communication and addressing conflict.
In this section, you will explore your values, preferences for responding to challenges, communication, and conflict, and learn how to identify and stop unconscious bias when it gets in the way of effective performance. This workbook should inspire you to update your SWOT analysis in Workbook 1 with your new insights and information.
ACTION STEPS CHECKLIST. This workbook will guide you through activities in three parts: Core Values, Conflict Orientation, and Thinking Systems.
⭖ Learn what values, beliefs, and assumptions affect your thinking, emotion, and behavior
⭖ Discover your worldview
⭖ Identify your core values, ideals, and motivation
⭖ Understand how your orientation toward conflict and challenges helps and hurts you
⭖ Recognize sources of unconscious bias and harm of fast-thinking
⭖ Practice using the Ladder of Inference tool to avoid fast-thinking
PART ONE: CORE VALUES
Your values tell your brain what is important, what you care about most, and how you should behave across a variety of situations. Whereas most people would agree that honesty, fairness, and respect for others are important values, there are differences in how people characterize, demonstrate, and prioritize these concepts. You need to get and maintain an awareness of your own, and know when and how to actively manage them.
Your values inform your identity – who you are, what you do, how you do it, and where your passion to do anything lives. When you have a lack of interest in something, you’ll want to explore whether it is due to your values and identity, a lack of training and skills, or relying too much on a skill that has blocked out your interest in something new because you don’t prioritize it with your time or it makes you uncomfortable – which change routinely does for many humans.
Your values are closely related to sources of motivation and energy. They are what David McClelland calls motivators and Daniel Pink calls drive. However you label it, when you align your actions with your values, you’ll have more energy to act.
Beliefs and assumptions are feelings that something is true. They are starting points for noticing information, processing it, and acting upon it. We rarely think about assumptions and beliefs, and therefore don’t develop the ability to harness and otherwise control them.
Assumptions and beliefs may be helpful or harmful. They are a brain efficiency mechanism, designed for fast thought. Often they have a “script” behind them that helps you to think quickly and save time, a critical survival skill at times — and a dangerous shortcut at others.
When the facts are not open to interpretation, time is of the essence, and the decision clear, the fast-thinking of scripts is helpful. When we see a lot of snow and ice on the ground, we dress warmly. When we think we see a bear in the woods, we run.
When the facts are open to interpretation, the decision is never clear and fast-thinking is an opportunity cost to the necessary deeper thinking. Under those circumstances, it’s wise to make sure you are using slower, more deliberate, analytical, and conscious data collection, data evaluation, and decision-making processes. When we decide who to hire, a person’s contributions to our organization, or the weight to give to a colleague’s ideas, we should take our time to consider which criteria to apply and how to apply them before rushing to judgment about the correct course of action.
To decide which strengths to build or which offer to accept, you need to shift your conscious mind to your values, assumptions, and beliefs – or else you won’t understand the reality of your options and what further information you might need. You’ll continue to think you understand all you can, and you won’t know what you’re missing. It helps to know how your values, beliefs, and assumptions may be influencing your thinking, feelings, and decisions. Then you can choose whether or not to rely on them, check them for accuracy and appropriate application to the circumstances, or change them.
Your values and identity are strategy elements for career development and the personal brand you develop to communicate it, which our next workbook will guide you through.
ACTIVITY 1: Assess Your Worldview
You are simultaneously unique as a human and similar to the rest of the universe, connected by your learned worldview. A worldview is the unique combination of one’s values, ideals, and motivation. Your worldview is a consequence of your genes and experiences from birth to now. Realizing and understanding your worldview can unleash energy and uncover personal obstacles. Your worldview imbues you with a unique perspective for noticing what is in your world, how to think about its meaning, and how to decide what to do. Gaining this insight will make you better at designing, implementing, and learning from your career and personal development strategy.
Think of your worldview as a set of beliefs and assumptions that inform your ideals and values. They limit the data you notice and what you experience, affect how you make sense of your data and experiences, and drive your decisions about what to do as a consequence. Bringing them from the hidden unconscious into consciousness allows you to expand your options and discover new solutions to old problems.
Your values and identity are the root of your strategy design. They impact every other element in your strategy. They will affect your choice of a vision and goal. They are part of your strengths and weaknesses. They create both laser vision and blinders when you explore your external environment for opportunities and threats. They color your decision-making about the meaning of every piece of data you collect during your strategy design process and your action planning. They affect if, how, and when you measure the progress toward your goals. They affect the confidence, tenacity, and resiliency you have available when your review, reflect, revise, and re-implement your strategy. They affect your attitude toward change and transformation. Remember, developing and implementing a career development strategy is about personal change and transformation.
ACTIVITY 2: Focus on Perspective
Values, ideals, and motivators can seem difficult to identify and define in a vacuum. But when someone violates them, you experience the “flow” of a motivating situation, or you find yourself facing an ethical dilemma, your values are more observable.
Examine the experiences that illuminate your values. Have you ever felt betrayed after you told a friend something in confidence and discovered that your friend shared it with someone else? Have you ever been so focused on what you are doing that time seems to pass at warp speed? Have you ever felt caught between deference to an authority figure and doing what you believed was the right thing to do?
When you tap into your values, you learn where to find energy. You learn why you are willing to work hard when the task is difficult, and what drives you to make decisions. Making conscious choices about your future begins with knowing the driving force behind your thinking and acting in alignment with what is most important to you.
>> Watch or listen to Shonda Rhimes, My year of saying YES to everything at TED2016.
>> Watch or listen to Dan Ariely, What makes us feel good about our work? at TEDxRiodelaPlata.
ACTIVITY 3: Examine Valuable Experiences
When we act in alignment with our values, we feel good. Life experiences that leave you feeling energized, happy, and as though it were an expression of your identity reveal your values. Acting on our values makes us feel our sense of purpose – indeed, we are acting on purpose.
ACTIVITY 4: Clarify Your Values
You can clarify your values with a simple process that starts with a survey of the range of values common to humans. Once your focused on your values, you can spend time considering which are more important. To act in alignment with your values, you have to know what they are, as clearly as possible.
When we act on the wrong values, we feel bad. Ethical dilemmas result from conflicts in values. Making the right decision will depend on how you prioritize your values, consciously or unconsciously. Values are often even in conflict even when we don’t feel we’re in an ethical dilemma to focus on, which means we’re acting on the wrong values over a series of unexamined choices that lead us farther from feeling good each step.
ACTIVITY 5: Assess Your Motivators
Self-assessments also offer new views to consider. They are not diagnostic. They offer you avenues toward insight and self-awareness. McClelland’s Needs Assessment offers you insight into your values and drivers for working hard and achieving success. McClelland’s theory of what drives people to work hard and achieve success offers three possible primary drivers of behavior: (1) Achievement, (2) Affiliation, and (3) Power.
Achievement motivators are associated with a strong need to set and accomplish challenging goals, taking calculated risks to accomplish goals, a preference to receive regular feedback on progress and achievements, and often a preference to work alone.
Affiliation motivators are associated with a desire to belong to the group, discomfort with high risk or uncertainty, a desire to be liked and often willingness to go along with group consensus, and preference for collaboration over competition.
Power motivators are associated with a desire for status and recognition, a preference to win arguments, a desire to control and influence others, and preference for competition and winning.
PART TWO: CONFLICT ORIENTATION
Acknowledging and understanding your orientation toward challenges and conflict is critical to understanding what direction to pursue in your career and how to pursue it. There is another layer below our values and motivators. Human brains form hidden scripts and unconscious biases through cultural learning. Our hidden scripts and unconscious biases shape our feeling, thinking, and behavior, and regularly direct our decisions and actions.
Conflict situations arise everyday at work and at home. You and your colleague or supervisor disagree about how to complete a work assignment. You purchase software that isn’t working as promised and you feel the “Help-Line” is a misnomer. You are about to deliver what you know will be perceived as “bad news.” You ask for a raise and are told that it’s impossible.
Negotiation and mediation skills are key to career advancement and success. Your perceptions and decisions about conflict and hoped-for-outcomes may limit your ability to negotiate or mediate effectively. The first step in developing the skills you need to expand your conflict response options is assessing your preferences and their impact on your thinking, feeling, and behavior.
The following activities will help you decide whether you want to expand your options and learn to manage your emotions that may hinder your ability to achieve your goals. Develop an awareness of when your hidden scripts and unconscious biases are triggered to execute better control. While falling back on scripts in times of challenge and conflict are normal human processes, it limits our ability to improve our response over time.
ACTIVITY 1: Consider Your Responses
Challenges and conflict are routine events in any successful and happy career. Know what you tend to think, feel, and do in times of challenge and conflict, and then you can decide how you want to manage conflict and challenges intentionally. Once you have your intention set, you can plan to achieve it and proactively control your responses.
ACTIVITY 2: Explore Your Hero Archetype
Dr. Carol Pearson’s Archetype Model offers tools to gain insight into your default responses to a challenge and expand your options for responses. Developed in 1986, Pearson introduced 6 archetypes to describe a model of insight and personal development called The Hero’s Journey. Each archetype illustrates a characteristic response pattern to a challenging obstacle. The 6 archetypes are: (1) Innocent; (2) Orphan; (3) Warrior; (4) Martyr; (5) Wanderer; and (6) Magician.
The Innocent Archetype is oblivious to danger and challenges, trusting of others, and not easily distracted. In new situations, the Innocent is open to the experience, curious, and expecting other people to be available and helpful. Trust, focus, and curiosity are valuable. The extreme manifestation risk for Innocents is being susceptible to missing threats and opportunities.
>> Overly Innocent tendencies are indicated by being too trusting and at risk for exploitation.
The Orphan Archetype has learned that help is not always available, so wears protective armor, is self-sufficient, and does not rely on others. In the expert dependency model the professional is the all-powerful expert, who solves the problems of a fully dependent other. The extreme manifestation risk for Orphans is ending up in silos, missing out on the flow of information, and not receiving assistance that a strong relationship network offers.
>> Overly Orphan tendencies are indicated by believing problems are created and solved by others, worrying about being abandoned or exploited, presuming eventual disappointment and refusing help, and extreme independence.
The Warrior Archetype is about competition and winning. The experience builds courage, assertiveness, and confidence as an effective professional. A discussion among a group of Warriors may look like a “violent agreement,” debating ideas that are the same as if they are different. For the Warrior, a sense of identity comes from feeling different and stronger than “the other.” The extreme manifestation risk for Warriors is expecting and forcing others to conform to their positions sacrifices their ability to build relationships.
>> Overly Warrior tendencies are indicated by blaming one’s own behavior on others, not considering how to change one’s own behavior, being quick to form opinions and defend them,sticking with a challenge for too long, defaulting to a Win-Loss lens in human interactions, making demands of your wants and needs and expecting others to satisfy them.
The Martyr Archetype draws its sense of identity from relationships and rescuing others. At times the boundaries between the Martyr and others is blurry and roles and responsibilities unclear. The selflessness of this archetype can mean sacrificing one’s own interests for the good of others. While the benefits of strong relationships are many, the extreme manifestation risk for the Martyr is poor direction as a leader and ignoring one’s own important needs until inevitable burnout.
>> Overly Martyr tendencies are marked by defaulting to avoid conflict and disregarding one’s own wants and needs in favor of seeking to accommodate others.
The Wanderer Archetype uses autonomy and independence to leverage the Innocent’s curiosity and explore the outside world in search of new opportunities that are different and better than the status quo. The extreme manifestation risk for the Wanderer is defaulting to search for a new and different situation instead of developing one’s own abilities and opportunities while maintaining present bridges and relationships.
>> Overly Wanderer tendencies are marked by failing to stick with a challenge long enough, changing mentors or jobs and continuing to find the same types of problems, and defaulting to avoid challenges by moving on to another focus.
The Magician Archetype is driven by curiosity to seek out innovative solutions to persistent and difficult challenges. Magicians see differences as the fertile ground for innovative ideas. The extreme manifestation risk of the Magician creating chaos and the inability to stay with a situation long enough to develop a deep understanding of solution options.
>> Overly Magician tendencies are marked by creating too much chaos and not working through to practical solutions.
How you think about and approach challenges will affect whether you persevere and learn from mistakes, overuse tenacity and miss new opportunities, or avoid risks altogether. It will affect whether you develop a strong network or remain too independent or become overly dependent on others to solve your problems. Over-reliance on any one archetype is problematic. Success depends on being aware enough to adjust your response to a change depending upon each unique situation.
ACTIVITY 3: Identify Your MBTI
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI (™) can help you start controlling your approach to conflict and its implications. The official MBTI assessment is a product for purchase owned by CPP; consider its value in the context of your purpose and your interpretation. The MBTI is an assessment and model used to explain different communication preferences – preferences for noticing data, making sense of it, decision about what to do, and interacting with one’s internal and external world.
MBTI is a widely used, self-reporting psychological assessment. Results are validated by the person taking the assessment. The value is in using your MBTI results for self-reflection and learning. Taking a self-assessment can provide insight that LCL’s clinicians can help you understand further, and are a free and confidential service for lawyers and law students in Massachusetts.
It does not measure skill level; there are no skill levels, only style preferences. The decision-making preference, called the Thinking-Feeling and Judging-Perceiving dichotomies, have implications for different approaches to resolving conflict. It can be a challenge to identify your selection in certain instances of the dichotomies, but making yourself choose can be an illuminating process.
ACTIVITY 4: Evaluate Your TKI
The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Inventory offers another set of clarifying lenses to help you improve your responses to conflict. The TKI is an assessment for measuring your preference for using one of five different potential responses. Its design can help you identify where your preferences limit your range of possible outcome, defining conflict as any situation “in which your concerns or desires differ from those of another person.” All relationships face conflict.
Your conflict management skills will play a large part in whether you attain the outcomes you want whether you’re leading a team or entire organization or are trying to influence the outcome of an interpersonal interaction. Effective relationship management and your career depend on your ability to manage conflict effectively. The TKI focuses on five possible responses to conflict: (1) competing, (2) collaborating, (3) avoiding, (4) accommodating, and (5) compromising. Each response has a corresponding set of skills (behaviors) and risks associated with overuse or underuse.
PART THREE: THINKING SYSTEMS
Recognize the difference between thinking too fast to acknowledge unconscious bias and thinking deliberately to consider a range of relevant information. Psychologists have been talking about schemas, heuristics, and scripts for years. Nobel Laureate and founder of behavioral economics, Daniel Kahneman, talks about two systems of Thinking: System 1 is fast and based on a gut reaction, while System 2 is slower, conscious, and deliberate.
System 1 Thinking includes unconscious biases that affect our thinking, decisions, and behaviors. They cloud our decisions. You may think you have made a rational decision about the best course of action, who is most qualified, or what to do to feel happy and successful, while your unconscious biases have actually led you to a conclusion without your awareness.
Self-awareness of your unconscious biases expands your choice options and improves your decisions. Familiarize yourself with these common biases that interfere with evidence-based decision-making, and immediately begin to practice conditioning yourself to recognize when you fall into them.
Anchoring: Allowing the first piece of information you notice to limit your thinking about possibilities. Ex. In a negotiation over money, the first number heard sets the tone and movement for the entire negotiation.
Availability: Giving too much weight to personal information and not enough weight to the array of relevant information. Ex. Believing that success is based on hard work alone because of personal experience that ignores the effect of a powerful network.
Representativeness: Predicting that a certain person will have certain characteristics or abilities based on their similarity to a stereotype. Ex. Judging mathematical ability by the choice of attire.
Loss Aversion: Avoiding change because all change involves the loss of the familiar and of certainty even when change leads to something better. Ex. Choosing to stay in a job that makes you unhappy instead of exploring other possibilities for fear that you’ll lose a safe situation.
Confirmation Bias: Noticing and accepting only information that confirms your position, while not noticing or ignoring evidence that undermines it.
ACTIVITY 1: Descend the Ladder of Inference
As you build on your inferences over a series of steps, each step narrows your thinking further onto a very limited, shakey foundation for action.
ACTIVITY 2: Keep Exploring (Optional)
Watch or listen to Dan Ariely, Are we in control of our own decisions? at TED EG 2008
Watch or listen to Daniel Kahneman on Thinking Fast and Slow in 2012.
Read or listen to the following books:
- Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow
- Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational
- Finkelstein, Whitehead, & Campbell, Think Again
And if you struggled with your personal reflection on your MBTI and TKI or if you think you can benefit from professional help or any reason, you can work with a coach certified to administer and interpret MBTI and TKI.
CONCLUDE WITH ACTION
In this workbook, you learned what values, beliefs, assumptions, and unconscious biases in decision-making are and how they can affect your decision-making in unanticipated and unintentional ways.
You explored the effects of your worldview and your core values on your concepts of a successful career and your motivation to achieve success. You identified your unique sources of energy in your values and McClelland motivation type. You identified your obstacles to success in the nature of your preferences for addressing challenges and conflict. You learned about several common “scripts” for unconscious bias that can derail your ability to make evidence-based decisions and how to “climb down” the Ladder of Inferences as a tool to keep your decision-making clear and conscious.
List the actions you can take and plan out precise times you will do them:
- What will you do to tap into your values for energy ?
- What will you do to motivate yourself toward the career path you want?
- What will you do to manage your orientations toward challenges and conflict?
- What will you do to improve your decision-making?
- How will you update your SWOT analysis?
Congratulations on finishing Workbook 2! Examining your values is among the deepest, most rewarding work you can do — secure your investment by scheduling time to finish the next three workbooks.
- BRAND [Workbook 3]. Rebrand yourself so that your project a strong, professional presence and people remember you exactly as you want them to.
- PURPOSE [Workbook 4]. Repurpose your passion into a driver of your success and happiness.
- PATH [Workbook 5]. Chart your course forward with clear goals, a step-by-step action plan, and insight for implementation accountability.