Cognitive Dissonance and The Workplace

“In situation after situation, hundreds of experiments reveal, that when our conduct clashes with our prior beliefs, our beliefs swing into conformity with our conduct, without our noticing that this is going on. In other words, too often we remind ourselves that we are good people, and conclude that what we are doing must not be bad, because we’re not the kind of people who would do bad things. The human ability to rationalize, or in other ways, distance ourselves from our bad acts, sometimes seems unlimited … We quickly begin to see our wrongdoing, as acceptable.”

The video advises people to not ignore guilty feelings and to pay attention to common rationalizations, and make sure they are not using them.

Another method to avoid unethical conduct is to practice empathy. In any environment, we can ask ourselves, who are the least powerful people in that room? What are their struggles and challenges? What are they thinking and feeling?

It is natural for everyone to focus on their own success and problems in life, and it takes real work to mentally and empathetically put oneself in the shoes of another. But if we practiced that, and envisioned the experiences other people might be having within the same office, the same room or organization, that can allow us to act more ethically and fairly, and in way that will encourage others’ successes and growth.


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