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Is That What You Meant to Say? Intent vs. Impact

By Sara Jensen, YWCA Racial Equity Program Coordinator
May 25, 2017
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I can remember vividly an incident that occurred in the locker room here at YWCA Minneapolis about a year ago. I ran into a person I knew from another context. She smiled at me in surprise and said, “Sara, you’re working out. That’s great!” Seems like an everyday interaction. Except that is not how it made me feel. Her face and her words told me that what she meant was, “Wow, because you are overweight I assumed you don’t work out.” While she was likely trying to be encouraging to me, in reality she was showing me a bias she held around body size. Did she intend to make me feel badly? Probably not. Did she make me feel badly? Absolutely. Her impact did not match her intent.

Conscious and Unconscious Biases

That’s the thing about our biases; they come out when we aren’t acting intentionally. We all carry biases, conscious and unconscious, and those biases lead all of us into situations where our impact does not match our intent.

Examining Your Impact

No matter how intentional I try to be, I make mistakes. I’m sure more often than I even realize. It’s important when we do get caught up in unintended impact to stop, reflect, learn and change our behavior.  But wouldn’t it be great if we could learn and change BEFORE we make the mistake? Join us for our June workshop when we support each other through the work of examining our own biases, thinking about where they come from and discuss techniques to unlearn them.

Join Us at Our Next Workshop

Intent vs. Impact: Unconscious Bias

Each of us carries biases, conscious and unconscious, that affect our thoughts and actions. Being able to lessen our unintended impacts all begins with understanding and confronting our individual biases.

  • Date: Thursday, June 22, 2017
  • Time: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
  • Location: YWCA Downtown – 1130 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403 (Board Room)
  • Cost: $10 ($5 for YWCA Members)

Register for Workshop Here