"I assumed..." (bias awareness exercise)


  • Time

    15-30 mins

Becoming aware of the assumptions we make and biases we may carry is key in creating environments in which diversity is valued, celebrated, welcomed, respected and supported. This is an exercise to let participants notice their own behaviours around the two; fostering awareness and mindfulness around assumptions & biases.

Credits and shoutout to Katy Grennier & Gareth Durrant from DSIL Global for introducing this one to us.


🌐 If you’re working online, make sure everyone has their camera turned on and meet in gallery view.

🌍 If you’re working offline, let the group sit in a circle, so that everyone can see each other well.

1. Let people look around the space really paying attention to each and everyone: how they’re sat, how they look like, their facial expressions or details, their environment, their body language

2. Start going through a set of questions. Instruct people to remain silent and think about, which people in the room they would select per question.
Question examples:

  • who loves to dance in front of their mirror?

  • who’s has lots of siblings?

  • who’s animal lover?

  • who’s earning the big bucks?

  • who’s overly ambitious?

  • who isn’t afraid to speak their mind?

  • … etc. You can get creative here related to your workshop intention

3. Let people reflect for a moment:

  • How was this?

  • What did you notice?

  • Why did you assign certain people to certain questions?

4. Ask some people to share their thoughts and engage in a conversation around assumptions & bias. Make sure to land on

  • On the one hand, assumptions are useful because they are an efficient way to process the world. It’s a way for our brain to save energy. We’re drawing from past experiences to find patterns, which we then apply when encountering new situations.

  • On the other hand, every individual brings their own experiences and background to the table to inform how they see things, especially when it comes to human interactions. Therefore, it is problematic to assume that our own way of seeing is the right/only way (especially when adding judgment to our assumptions and begin labelling).

  • Moreover, biases can play a role; it’s the partiality for or prejudice against someone, something or some idea (often based on stereotypes, rather than actual knowledge).

  • Whether positive or negative, such cognitive shortcuts can lead to prejudgements and make us miss out on opportunities, risk hurting people, take rash decisions and/or enforce discriminatory practices.

  • Becoming aware of the assumptions we make and biases we may carry is key in creating environments in which diversity is valued, celebrated, welcomed, respected and supported, so that every participant can feel confident and comfortable bringing their full self to any session.

Materials // Remarks

Make sure to create enough space/time for this exercise so it doesn’t end up being rushed.


Collaboration, guide to working better anywhere, information techniques mindset methods dynamics

Curated resource with practical activities, tools, templates, frameworks, and thought-provoking articles, to fuel your enthusiasm to try out new ways of working hassle-free.


Read about how we process your information in our privacy policy. You have the right to object to certain processings of your personal data. Check your rights in the privacy policy for more information.