Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Countering Misinformation

More often than not we work with clients who are members of groups that are subjects of various kinds of prejudice. The young, the middle-aged, the old, women, men, people that have been incarcerated, etc, etc, etc. (If you see what I mean.)

When we speak to employers we need effective ways of dispelling these prejudices. When we counsel job seekers we need to impart targeted advice about how to cope with their unique situations.

As usual, it's important to remember that human beings are not simply computers. You could try a logical approach in eliminating each of my prejudices but I would cling to them like life itself.

To be successful you need to adopt some subtlety. Fortunately this is not enormously difficult. Here are the key items to remember:

  • You're dealing with misinformation. Explain why the source of the misinformation would have created it.
  • Keep it short.
  • Avoid repeating the misinformation itself since every repetition of it tends to reinforce it.
  • Indicate what misinformation you are refuting.
  • Keep repeating the facts as you offer your explanation of the truth.
  • Undermine the source by suggesting or demonstrating that they are not always or generally a reliable source of information.
  • Include yourself within the other person's world view by pointing out other areas of agreement between yourselves.
  • Encourage the other person to remind him- or herself of his own sense of self and his own place in the world by thinking of friends, family and other group memberships.

If you're a career developer think of a client in difficulty and then try to define that person in terms of the prejudices that employers might hold about him or her. Now work out how to convince an employer that those prejudices are unsound.

If you're a job seeker think about the categories in which an employer might unfairly place you. What prejudices attach to one of these categories, the category that might be most likely to cause you difficulty in becoming employed? Now work out how to confront that prejudice in your marketing materials or an interview.