You're at a meeting. The discussion gets heated. Comments are thrown around. Tempers fray. Do people really know what they're saying? Do people actually listen and think before they speak?
This can be a problem. And it's not confined to meetings, but to everyday situations. And I believe this is quite apparent even in the clinical work space. How does it affect our work as doctors and clinicians during patient encounters? How does it affect our communication with our peers or superiors? How does it impact our decision making in emergency medicine?
What we need is a heap of 'mindfulness'. We're already bad at recognising our own biases in our thought processes. And we immediately form biases upon hearing any information or fact, unconsciously or not. Are we even able to think critically and mindfully about anything?
Mindfulness, in contrast, involves observing without questioning. If the takeaway from research on cognitive biases is not simply that thinking errors exist but the belief that we are immune from them, then the virtue of mindfulness is pausing to observe this convoluted process in a non-evaluative way. We spend a lot of energy protecting our egos instead of considering our faults. Mindfulness may help reverse this.
So, to help open our minds, confront our innate biases, and think about our own thinking, take a listen to the following: David Foster Wallace's commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon college