Selective Exposure in Business

by on Oct 14, 2020 10:40 AM

Selective Exposure in Business

I recently read an article on Selective Exposure, a theory that refers to an individual’s tendency to favor information which reinforces his/her pre-existing views while avoiding contradictory information.  Before you stop reading because you think I might be referring to our country’s divisive political environment, I assure you that I wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot pole. Instead, I’m applying this concept to business.

Companies come to Trilogy to help them solve their problems. In the initial diagnosis phase, we ask our clients to explain in detail their issues which are often comprised of financial woes, lack of strategy, misalignment, and/or employee challenges. We’re told savory stories about these roadblocks which, for the most part, seem plausible. Only when we dig deeper by reviewing data, asking tough questions, and getting other perspectives do we start to understand the entire picture.

Identifying Selective Exposure in Business

We’ve had instances when our root cause assessment ran counter to what we were originally led to believe. We’ve come to understand that data from one person’s perspective can be biased based upon something similar to selective exposure. For instance, a client was convinced that one of his employees was failing because the employee lacked a specific technical degree. The business owner aligned himself with people who thought the same and even did research on the benefits of having this type of degree. Our assessment found that the employee was competent; it was the company’s communication about expectations that was lacking. Our revelation to the business owner was a real eye opener for him.

Regardless of your role in a company, it is important to recognize when you are in the mindset of selective exposure. I would gently urge you to think about the following:

1. Do you consciously or unconsciously expose yourself to data about your business world that favors your opinion?
2. How do you react when your beliefs are challenged?
3. What would be the benefit of delving into an opposing belief?

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About Andrea Grubb

Andrea Grubb is the Chief Integrator Officer at Trilogy Partners. Trilogy Partners is an advisory & implementation firm whose mission is to help companies grow and transform. We accomplish this by focusing on 3 critical business areas: Financial, Strategy & People.