What the Photo of the Year will tell you about yourself



This photograph has flooded the internet. Taken by Germany’s Jezco Denzel at the G7 summit (June 2018) it captures an image that strikes at the heart of the cultural chasm ripping nations apart.

If you haven’t seen this picture yet, try and caption it with one word. What would you say?

From all the memes I have seen, it basically boils down to two things. People focus on Merkel or on Trump and it is either positive or negative. E.g. if you focus on Trump you see ‘petulant’ or you see ‘defiant’.

The challenge to set yourself is this: whatever your response was, can you see the ‘other side’? E.g. if you focused on Merkel in a positive way (= strong woman making a case), can you focus on Trump in a positive way (= confident man not being intimidated)?

If you (for instance) look at Merkel and struggle to see anything but a ‘bossy woman’, or look at Trump and struggle to see anything but petulance, you are wrestling with your biases.

Our biases are so powerful and operate at a base level of cognitive processing that it is (a) hard to recognise and (b) even harder to change.

Lessons to take from this:

  • We all have biases

  • Biases are powerful

  • Biases are not recognised by the individual

  • Biases are cannot be changed (by others) through persuasion

  • Biases cannot even be changed by yourself (or with great difficulty or under exceptional circumstances)

In sum; we are all victims of our own biases, and forever more stands in the way of mutual understanding, peace and acceptance.