Status-quo bias – The tendency for people to stay committed to current situations, for fear of changing to the unknown.
Status quo bias is also caused by laziness, aversion to complexity, unnatural learning style demands, reading small print, etc.
I have been reading this book – Nudge – by Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein. The crux of the book is about human behavior, and how slight nudges in the right direction can cause disproportionately-large changes in our habits.
In the book, the authors mention the status-quo bias and how we avoid making changes just because of the (mostly misplaced) fear of the unknown.
We see inertia especially affecting people’s decisions when having to adopt new technologies, or decluttering a home, or working towards a new qualification or career change.
Status-quo bias affects all of us, since we are all human. It is human tendency.
Sometimes, it takes a life-changing event to shake up this bias. For instance, the work-from-home or the online-call norms that quickly replaced the in-person meetings that was almost taken for granted – meet in person is a must to close a deal. And now?
Life also throws up many challenges, and I suspect that we have seen quite a few of them in this past year. People have lost jobs, businesses have closed, lives have been disrupted.
Mentally – people have got tired of being isolated, and this weariness has sometimes led to a spike in cases, since we just don’t want to stay home anymore.
I have personally come across many such instances. And I always tell them the same thing.
When you see a challenge, when things get tough, don’t panic. Think.
Think of what status quo-biases you have. What you are afraid of changing in your life. What is that default mechanism that we use to stay in our comfort zone, so that we don’t venture out and possibly face rejection or loss….
Status-quo in your job means fear of learning something new. Of upskilling, or implementing a new process or new change in technology, just because you don’t want to get out of the comfort zone you are currently in.
Status-quo in your relationships, in your emotions, your thoughts and feelings…it’s all there. The default settings that we come to settle with. Life’s challenges are meant to be that wake-up call – for you to shake off your current way of thinking and doing, and to explore or charter a new path.
The challenge may not be overcome just by changing the bias. But it can surely be a start. A lateral way of thinking. A new way of approaching a problem. For change is what drives us forward.
Today, list out all the status-quo biases that you have, and keep a target of a month, to overcome them. At the end of this small exercise, you will feel a bit more empowered to face challenging times. If you do, pass this message on.
If you don’t, then try again. Until you succeed.
All the best!