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32: Tony Chatman on the Truth of Unconscious Bias

By January 9, 2019 February 10th, 2020 No Comments

Tony Chatman, is Chemical Engineer turned keynote speaker, a corporate relationship expert and guy who is trying to change the world while having a blast in the process.


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BIO of Tony Chatman:

Where there are people there are problems.  Tony Chatman turns problems into progress.  As a corporate relationship expert, Tony destroys the dysfunction that burns out executives, frustrates staff, and ultimately stalls success. His strategies for understanding people and processes enable organizations to achieve their goals through listening and leadership.


The Tony Chatman Experience delivers presentations that are an entertaining and impassioned balance of both science and practical insight. Tony breaks down tough topics such as change management, teamwork and unconscious bias. He creates a new, stronger foundation for true leadership. Audiences leave focused and motivated to turn individual differences into business advantages.

Tony, a trained chemical engineer, captures the magic reaction that sparks when disparate elements work together. Add to that formula a powerful stage presence from years of playing bass guitar, and Tony is sure to connect with his audience in every entertaining and insightful engagement.

Since 2006, hundreds of corporations and government agencies have leveraged the Tony Chatman Experience to reach new heights of effectiveness by understanding themselves and others better.

His 2017 book The Force Multiplier is a touchstone to inspire leaders to transform people (and their personalities!) into a high-performing team that gets the job done.



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Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg


READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPTION of the EPISODE HERE (or download the pdf):

**IMPORTANT: This podcast episode was transcribed by a 3rd party service and so errors can occur throughout the following pages:


Mike Domitrz: Welcome to the Respect Podcast, I’m your host Mike Domitrz, from, where we help organizations of all sizes, educational institutions, and the US military, create a culture of respect, and respect is exactly what we discuss on this show, so let’s get started.

Mike Domitrz: This week, we want to dive right in so you can meet Tony Chatman, a chemical engineer turned keynote speaker, a corporate relationship expert, and a guy who is trying to change the world while having a blast in the process. Tony, thank you so much for joining us.

Tony Chatman: Hey, Mike. Thanks for having me.

Mike Domitrz: Absolutely. One of your areas of expertise is discussing unconscious bias, so for all of our listeners, what is unconscious bias?

Tony Chatman: Sure. The easiest way to think of unconscious bias, and this is important, because honestly, it’s such a hot topic that there’s a lot of information, and in that flow of information, there’s a lot of misinformation. The brain can really be broken into two thinking systems. There’s our very logical, rational thinking system that we normally think of, but then there’s what I call rapid cognition. It’s what’s attached to all of our fight or flight mechanisms. It’s when you see a spider and you immediately have fear before you realize why you have it.

Tony Chatman: Unconscious bias are really the prejudices and preferences and narratives that are stored within that rapid cognition that’s attached to all of the emotional centers of the brain. It’s why we have certain feelings. We size people up very quickly without even knowing it and determine whether we trust them, whether we like them, whether they’re safe, all of those areas are wrapped up into that unconscious bias.

Mike Domitrz: When people hear that and they hear something, words like prejudices we might have, they become defensive, like, “I don’t have prejudice,” and right away they push back from this unconscious bias. How do you help people understand when you hear that word, it’s not to take offense, it’s that it’s causes by the culture we’re raised in, the world we’re raised in?

Tony Chatman: Sure. When I talk about it, first I really do break it into those two thinking systems, and when I define unconscious bias, I tell people, “Yeah, we have prejudices. I have a prejudice. I like pineapple juice over apple juice.” There’s nothing necessarily good or bad about it. It’s just there. It’s the fact that we have certain ones in our subconscious that are affecting us, and then what I really like to do is talk about the stats, and the stats help people see things. For example, in the United States, 75% of people have an unconscious preference for white people over black people, which literally means they view white as being good, smart, and safe, and black as being the opposite. 76% of people more readily associate men with having careers and females with staying home with the family. 76% of people also have an unconscious preference for people who are able-bodied versus people who are disabled.

Tony Chatman: But then I come back and say, “Let me tell you what I didn’t just say. I did not just say that 75% of white people have a preference for white over black, did I?” No. I said 75% of people. See, that’s not how bias works. It’s more of a function of how we’re programmed, and because of that, you can have a bias that’s against your own self-interests, and a bias against what you consciously know to be good, moral, and true, and so unconscious bias is in no way and cannot be used as a barometer of morality. It’s not an indication of whether you’re good or bad. It’s totally a function of how you’ve been programmed, how you’ve been raised, what you’ve watched on TV and in movies, all of these other things that are literally programming our subconscious, and it’s normally when I say that multiple times that the defenses begin to drop because now we’re in an even playing field.

Mike Domitrz: I’ll never forget, I think it was almost two decades ago, and I could very well be wrong about who said this, so I apologize for that up front, but the statement was, I believe it was Jesse Jackson who said, “Look, I’m a black man and if I’m walking down the street late at night, I have noticed that I move away from a young black man walking towards me or walk across the street because I’ve been raised in the same culture, that even though I should know better, I’ve been raised in this world that says that’s danger coming my way, versus if that was somebody else coming my way, I wouldn’t react that way.” That’s why I think what you said is so important is right away when you said the numbers, 75%, my brain immediately said, “75% means the far majority of all genders, all sexual orientations, all identities fall into that.”

Tony Chatman: Yeah. There’s a flip side to that coin, though, too. I didn’t say 75% of all white people. I said 75% of all people because we know that approximately 40% of black people have a preference for white over black. 40% of black people have a preference for black over white, and 40% of black people are neutral, but in saying that, I also don’t want it to be a sense of, “Oh, then it’s okay,” because that’s the other danger, is that when you start saying that, yeah, I want to take the stigma away, but that does not make it any less dangerous, and so it becomes this intense balancing act of helping people to see from a neuroscientific standpoint, we have to realize that we all have biases, but we also have to deal with the effects of those biases, and that’s what we’re really responsible and accountable for.

Mike Domitrz: Yeah, and I think that’s what’s so important here is that once I recognize the bias, now I choose what to do with it. To say, “Well, it’s a bias, so it’s just the way I think,” no, you choose at that moment what to do with that bias. You choose to say, “I am not going to let that bias because I’m recognizing it,” and when we don’t recognize it, obviously we’re not able to do this, but when we recognize it, then we have a moment to pause and go, “Okay. Am I going to make a choice knowing that bias is making the choice, or am I going to say, ‘No, I want to separate that bias from this. Now what choice would I make?'” That’s really what we’re talking about as the key to moving forward, correct?

Tony Chatman: That’s certainly one of the keys. I would definitely agree with you. Part of the challenge is people aren’t aware of their biases. They think that they’re more neutral and objective than they really are. Technology has helped us in amazing ways in the last 10 to 15 years, especially the advancement of functional MRIs. What FMRIs tell us is that the majority of decisions that we make on a daily basis originate out of our subconscious minds, which is really shocking when you think about it because we think we’re more rational and objective and logical than we really are. We far more are reliant on those unconscious biases, and the challenge is we’re not aware of them. When we become aware of them, that really allows us to be able to address them just as you said, but becoming aware of them is really the great challenge.

Mike Domitrz: Yeah, and not falling into the trap of when we see a bias or we learn of a bias from one source different than ourselves, taking that as the new sample to run with. What I mean by that is I could’ve easily been an example of that one moment ago. I could’ve said, “20 years ago, Jesse Jackson said that. I’m a white male. That’s a black male, so Jesse Jackson represents all black males in that statement,” and now run with that, and I think we see that a lot politically now. People say, “This one person over here said this, so see, this isn’t harming all those people, because this one person said this isn’t harming those people,” and people use it in a negative fashion.

Tony Chatman: Absolutely. You’re hitting it right on the head, and that’s not done by accident. We know that there are people who are intentionally doing that to justify behaviors, and unfortunately, and this is one of the disappointing parts of our brains, when it comes to biases, because biases are tied into parts of our brain that are fight or flight mechanisms, they’re survival mechanisms, our brain is often more concerned about being fast than being correct in those situations, so it makes broad generalizations because that’s how we’re wired. It’s a survival thing, and so it takes extreme effort to, in that very moment like you just said, to say, “Okay. This one black male made this statement, but he’s not representative of all black males,” and that becomes a challenge.

Mike Domitrz: Yes. And acknowledging that, and what sources do I need to learn more to reveal the unconscious bias? Because that’s really what it’s going to come down to. The right way to look at this would be that has opened a door of possibility by me hearing that comment. Now what do I need to do to learn more to see how much credibility there is to that comment? That would be the right approach, correct? Or I shouldn’t say right or wrong, but the healthy approach.

Tony Chatman: That’d be the healthy approach, and the healthy approach would be, hey, let me find more black men or more black people and get their opinion if they feel safe to give it to me. That would be a great way to do it. Unfortunately, we often don’t have the time, ability, or even resources to pull that off.

Mike Domitrz: I also love what you said there, if they feel safe saying it to me, because a lot of people don’t realize that if I’m a person that society has in power and I come up to you and I ask you an opinion about me, society has taught you to keep me happy, and society has taught you don’t upset him, he doesn’t do well with that, if you’re the party in power. That’s typically how society has taught us to treat those people. You don’t, if someone’s in power, upset the apple cart. That’s a cliché that people use all the time. I also have to be conscious of you might be giving me the answer I want to hear.

Tony Chatman: Yeah. Let me rewind for a moment. You mentioned at the beginning that I’m a chemical engineer. That is partially true and that’s what I use in my bio. Technically, my major in college was paper science, which is a very specific advanced form of chemical engineering geared towards the paper industry. Here’s what’s fascinating about that. I went to a college that had an undergraduate class of about 22,000 people. I am the second African American in the history of that university to graduate with that degree. Since my sophomore year in college, I have been the only black person in the room, and so I’m very aware of what is safe and what is not safe in a variety of different situations.

Mike Domitrz: What’s amazing there is most people think the opposite. They think, “Well, you were in this culture … ” I shouldn’t say most. That’s a dangerous line to say. A lot of people could think, “Well, you succeeded in that environment because that proves that there’s no bias in that environment, that you can be yourself, that you can thrive,” right? That’s a line that we hear a lot.

Tony Chatman: Yeah, unfortunately, and they don’t realize it’s the exact opposite, like you said. It was in spite of all those difficulties and challenges and learning how to be very thick-skinned, because things that were offensive were said to me all the time, whether intentionally or not, learning how to look past people’s immediate behaviors and say, “Is that intentional? Is that ignorance?” There are a lot of people who just decided it wasn’t worth it, and for me, it wasn’t that I had this vision of being the Jackie Robinson of the paper industry by any stretch. It was just I had a goal in mind and I wanted to hit it, and I was very good at working within other racial ecosystems.

Mike Domitrz: I think that’s so brilliant for people to be able to hear and understand that the person who made it through that, that just tells you how good they are, how intelligent they are, how brilliant they are at being able to manage situations and overcome, and how much determination there is there.

Tony Chatman: That’s where this becomes fascinating, because I do these workshops on unconscious bias, and for me, unconscious bias is not just about race, right? So

Tony Chatman: For example, studies have been done if you take a resume and you send it out to human resources professionals, certain resumes with a man’s name and certain with a woman’s name and they’re the exact same resume, 79% of those with the man’s name are going to be viewed as worthy of hire. 49% percent of those with the woman’s name are going to be viewed as worthy of hire, so literally men have a 60 percent better shot with the same credentials. Which means, yeah, do women succeed? Absolutely, but most likely the qualification standards that are going to be used towards them are going to be far more stringent. They’re going to have to perform better to get the same.

Mike Domitrz: We’re seeing more of those discussions come up in the last five, 10 years. How do we help people recognize to be aware of their own possibility of unconscious bias? I always, when I’m training people, the military will bring me into corporations will say, “Hey, can you help train us on how you do what you do?” I’m not giving them my speech, but I’m training them on how to engage audiences in these conversations and one of the questions I ask when I’m working with them is, I have my workbook in front of them that says, “You can never be blank inclusive”, and people always have all these answers. The one that it is is you can never be 100% inclusive because you don’t know your biases. You don’t know what you just said, that excluded somebody from the conversation because you don’t know what you don’t know. So the question is how do we become more aware? How do we become more sensitive to the possibility that what we’re saying is having an impact? We’re not aware of.

Tony Chatman: Sure. Well, there’s multiple ways. First, the standard way would be to say, take the implicit associations test. That’s the test that was developed by Harvard and MIT and University of Virginia. It’s on Harvard’s website. It’s actually, if you google implicit associations test, you can take it on a variety of different dimensions. That’s the simple way. I don’t think that that’s needed by most people. The first thing is to be open to feedback. What does that mean? If I’m in a situation and something happens and I say, “Wow, could there have been some biased in your decision making?” The open minded person would say, “Huh, let me think about that.” The unopened minded person will go, “Hey, I’m not a racist. Are you playing the race card?” And you can see all of these other scenarios building up.

Tony Chatman: The truth of the matter is we get a lot of feedback and we often don’t take it because we’re not willing to view ourselves as non-perfect and the minute we’re willing to say, you know what, if I’m not perfect, then I have blind spots and this person may not have the intention of trying to hurt me. They may be just trying to help me to see my blind spot. That would open up a lot of doors.

Tony Chatman: The second would be to change your friend group, and that was one that I personally had to do. I’m good at being real and transparent and not always PC. Here it is. I grew up in a very religious household and a very religious environment and especially maintain that or re-incorporated that after college. I became very religious. I had to ask myself, so how do I feel about the LGBTQ community? I mean, really. If I talk about, especially now that I talk about unconscious bias, but even before that, if I’m going to maintain that I’m such a good person, I’ve got to go back and say, based on things that have been taught, things that have been heard, things that I’ve heard, things that I’ve been exposed to, what are my real thoughts?

Tony Chatman: And the best way to change those thoughts is to begin spending more time with people of that demographic. And it’s easier to do as a professional speaker because there are tons of professional speakers who are in the LGBTQ community. Now, here’s what I didn’t do. I didn’t say, hey, there are LGBTQ. Let me go hang out with them. I just found environments where there were more likely to be and as they revealed themselves to be who they are, it helped me to say, well, no, that person’s just that person, and it began to change my paradigm, but I knew I had to change my friend group and here’s why that’s so important. The Public Religious Research Institute says that 70% of white Americans do not have a black friend. So 70% of white Americans don’t have a black friend and that’s self reported. When they are asked, “Do you have a black friend?” They name all their friends says, “So how many of these are black?” “Oh, none.” Okay, 70%.

Mike Domitrz: Yeah. Which means there could be more than that that don’t. Because some people are going to naturally say, “Yes, I do” out of guilt conscious. Or that someone’s in my circle so I call that my black friend.

Tony Chatman: Yeah, exactly. So now, when that person sees something on the news, when they see something in a movie, when they hear this, see that they have no benchmark to go and compare that to. And they have no feedback mechanism to say, well, okay, I see that. But I know Tony and I know Steve and I know Francis and I know all of these other people who can help me to go, well, that’s not accurate, and for me to start believing that means I need to question my own thought processes. So that really can help.

Mike Domitrz: Absolutely. Let’s go back to the feedback one because I think you might’ve seen this happen. I think we’re in the same Facebook group where this happened about receiving feedback. Recently, some speakers were talking about, I come offstage, somebody gives me unsolicited feedback. How do you handle this? And in the speaking world there was this debate going on in this forum about, I tell them, “Thank you for offering, but I’m not looking for feedback right now.” Like they’ll give that response. And the first time somebody told me this within this past year and at the moment I went, “Oh, that’s brilliant”, because you’re vulnerable at that moment it might not be a good time to hear feedback.

Mike Domitrz: And then I just step back and go, wait a second here. That’s a real potential abuse of power in that I’m in front of a stage, all of us speakers are and we are connecting with an audience and we’re potentially opening up emotional spaces for that audience to learn and grow and then you come up to me afterwards to have a sincere, authentic feedback experience with me and I tell you, nope, nope. I get to close the door here because I don’t want this right now. I’m in a sensitive place right now. This could hurt me to hear negative feedback and what a place of privilege we have to recognize that we even think, yeah, I have the right to shut you down. I know that I just potentially open something up for you, but you don’t have the right to open something up for me.

Mike Domitrz: And I know it’s done as self protection, but I really don’t think it’s self protective. Self protective is I just took an hour on stage and we interacted at our lives and you want to take 15 to 30 seconds to potentially help me. I need to listen and if I need to be strong to have this warrior shield on me, that can come up when I leave this room. That can come up five minutes later, but right now I need to be present for you. Do you think that’s a good example of be careful of protecting because I’m sensitive or I’m vulnerable versus hear it and then decide you know how much value there isn’t that.

Tony Chatman: It depends on the situation is what I’m going to say. And I say that because you and I speak about topics that elicit very strong emotions. Correct? Especially understanding unconscious bias. I am approached as a black man very differently than I would be approached as a white male and I see that just in life. That is just a reality we’d have to deal with. There are times where I think it is valuable in the moment to have a constructive feedback conversation after a workshop. There are other times though where I think it’s really important that both parties have a moment to get their thoughts together and their emotions under wraps because if they don’t, it’s easy to have a conversation that’s not really about the issue, but it’s about the emotion that I felt in that moment and if I respond to that emotion versus having the awareness to say, “Okay, wait, I hear you saying that, but how do we dig into the real issue? That may have been misheard.” All these things.

Tony Chatman: It’s sometimes giving the other person a moment to get their thoughts and emotions together because I can tell you there are times where I’m a victim of a bias that if I address it in that moment, it is going to be extremely unhealthy. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given, it’s when you’re in the middle of a conflict, what’s the worst thing you could say? The worst thing you could say is whatever makes you feel good in that moment, because that is a self-serving phrase in that moment. I think that there’s two sides of it. I think if it’s just for self protection, that becomes very dangerous. But if there can be opened up to, “Hey look, I’d like to have a real conversation with you about this, can we maybe 15 minutes, 20 minutes later come together and that way I’ll give you five or 10 minutes of uninterrupted space to really hash this out.” I think that can be beneficial for both. So I think it’s important to have the feedback but to also figure out how to make that feedback constructive.

Mike Domitrz: Well, I love what you did right there because whether you’re a speaker or any job to say to somebody, “Can we come back together in 15, 20 minutes or in two hours.” Let’s say it’s in the workplace and have this conversation where we’ve had time to really think about. I think that’s brilliant because anybody could take that approach and I want to thank you Tony, because you right there helped me reveal the privilege of when I walk off stage as a white man. I not fearing the feedback, but some people could be, and I’m not saying you would be, but some could be. It’s possibly due to gender orientation. That feedback could become dangerous in some ways for some people. I just thought, well, due to my own experiences, why wouldn’t I? Except for the fact that I might not be in a place to hear it at that moment, which is still important, but that was very helpful.

Tony Chatman: Thank you. I appreciate that and I think you just hit it on the nose. It’s one thing for me to feel that as a black male, but what about as a white female? They could feel all sorts of things depending on how the person approaches them and they probably deal with many power struggles. I shouldn’t say probably, but they’re more likely to deal with a power struggle during a presentation than maybe even I am. And so I appreciate what you just said was … you basically said, my experience is not the universal experience. And I think that that right there, if we could all figure that out, that would open up so many doors for more dialog.

Mike Domitrz: Well, and you got me there. So thank, Tony. Obviously when I’m working with organizations, we have these conversations, but I think that’s what’s so wonderful about having this conversation with you today is those of us who work in this field still are constantly … It’s a discovery. It’s an ongoing discovery because of what you said, 76% of our thoughts are not thought out. Their reaction, their thought out by the subconscious. But I didn’t consciously make that choice completely. And that’s so powerful.

Tony Chatman: There’s nothing wrong with being wrong. Probably 10 workshops into me doing this, I shared this example of a guy play basketball. His name is Matt. We’re good friends. When we first started playing basketball, he was super aggressive towards me and I kept thinking, we’re going to get into a fight. It’s just gonna happen to the point I took actually a couple of weeks off of playing basketball. So we’re playing one day and we were both waiting to get on and we just started rapping, talk about whatever, whatever. And he began to share with me how difficult it was for him when he moved into the country as a teenager from Poland. And eastern European countries, if you looked at the passive aggressive continuum, they are far more assertive and aggressive than United States. And so at that point I started to make some connections and say, well, that makes a lot of sense. And he started sharing how difficult it was to adjust and for his brother to adjust. And so I shared

Tony Chatman: -you know, in my class, you know, that I had to go back and look at the source and to say, maybe dealing with coming from this, even as he explained it to me, that that was part of why we’re going at it. It’s almost as well, do you think you’re being biased? My response immediately was like, “Well, no. I’m actually going off the information he’s telling me.” And then later, I thought about it, I thought, “Well wait a second. I know tons of Polish people who aren’t like that.”

Tony Chatman: As the very person giving the workshop, I have this huge blind spot, and fortunately, someone was able to point it out to me. Even though initially I dismissed it, I had to come back and say, “But wait.” And that realization of we’re going to make mistakes, and making mistakes does not make us bad people.

Mike Domitrz: No, when we recognize them, it gives us the greatest opportunity for growth. Some of the most painful feedback I’ve had in 27 years of speaking has been the feedback that revolutionized how I approach the situation going forward.

Tony Chatman: Great point, great, great point.

Mike Domitrz: And so it’s a matter of even at the time if you’re defensive about it, maybe you walk away and five minutes later you’re like, “Why is this bothering me so much?” Because it’s true.

Tony Chatman: Right.

Mike Domitrz: There’s something there, and that’s painful to admit I’ve been doing it wrong. And we all do it in relationships. The person closest to you, we shut off the quickest in an argument. So if you’re married, and your spouse says something to you, you’re like, “No, but you don’t understand.” But if your friend who overhears says, “Hey, did you recognize this?” You’re like, “Oh my gosh, that’s brilliant, I didn’t think of that.” And your spouse is going, “What? I’ve said that before.”

Mike Domitrz: But we’re shutting down certain sources versus other sources and it’s opening to all of them going, “You’re probably saying that to help me.” That’s the part we forget. You’re probably talking to me right now to help.

Tony Chatman: I would actually say even a greater revelation or people who’d really relate to that would be parents of teens, right? Because I have two teenage boys. The number of times I’ve told them something, and then a friend said the exact same thing. I’m like, “Seriously? Now you’re gonna listen?” But my wife said something fascinating to me about, I don’t know, six months into marriage. We’ve been married, it’ll be 24 years in November. So we were having just a basic disagreement. We weren’t yelling or arguing, but it was just we were getting on each other’s nerves. And she just turned and looked at me, and she goes, “I’m not trying to upset you.”

Tony Chatman: And when she said it, it was like, “Yeah, I know. I know.” But I needed to hear that because it almost felt like … No, it’s not that it felt like. I was putting an intention behind her behaviors. And I think what you just said is what we often do is we put an intention behind the feedback, and that intention is often based on our biases. And what it does is it lets us off the hook. Well, that feedback is no good because they have a different agenda versus let me separate the two and just listen to the feedback and see if there’s any truth to it. And that may save us from having to hear it from another source.

Mike Domitrz: Yeah, I do an exercise with corporate audiences where I’ll say, “Hey, remember when you first moved in with someone?” And they’re like, “Oh yeah.”

Mike Domitrz: “Remember the first few days? How long before they annoyed you? How long before they did some habit you had never seen until you lived together before they annoyed you?” And people start laughing. They’re like, “Jeez, 30 seconds.”

Tony Chatman: Right, right, right.

Mike Domitrz: Were they trying to annoy you? No, what were they doing? Being themselves. That’s what was annoying me, okay? So that was never their intention to annoy you. And it’s the same thing with triggers that can cause … It doesn’t mean they’re always intentional. Some are, and that’s a whole other discussion. But a lot are not. So I think that’s so brilliant you brought that up so thank you for sharing that.

Mike Domitrz: There’s two books you really recommend, Tony, and they are “Thinking Fast and Slow” and “The Power of Habit.” Why those two books?

Tony Chatman: “Thinking Fast and Slow” is like the scientific bible of unconscious bias. And I say it because when Daniel Kahneman wrote it, all of his work had been based off this, and he actually won a Nobel Prize for it. The science behind it is what’s so important. I’ve actually given this presentation and had board meetings from the National Science Foundation come up, validate everything I’ve said and say they want to collaborate with me. And my number one source of information came from that book. It is almost a must-read if you want to understand the true science behind why we think the way we do, and to realize it’s not just about people but it affects how we make decisions about data, about almost everything. We’re really not objective.

Tony Chatman: “The Power of Habit,” one of the things I’m really diving into is how do we really reprogram our biases, because I think that’s what we wanna do. Many of the solutions we often give are ways to mitigate the effect of bias, but how do we reprogram our mind? And “The Power of Habit” seems to have some amazing keys of how do you change habitual behaviors. And it really comes down to how do you change your thinking? And so I’m still diving into that, but it seems to hold keys that no one has taken and applied to concepts like unconscious bias as methodologies for really making lasting change. So that’s why I say those two books.

Mike Domitrz: Well thank you for sharing those. Tony, last question I have is, I can hear some people probably out there thinking, “How do I do this without constantly feeling the old cliché I’m walking on eggshells with everything I say?”

Tony Chatman: Yeah, okay, so here’s the reality, and I’ll say this not as an unconscious bias speaker teacher. I will say this simply as a black man in America. Most people of color, most women, most people of other ethnicities, of other religions, actually want to have the conversations, in all honesty. The challenge is we’re often able to separate action from intention because it’s the world we live in. It’s really often the fear coming from the majority of not wanting to have the conversation, and especially because they’re fed narratives. If you’re fed a narrative that, for example, you take your topic, if you’re constantly fed the narrative, “Yeah, but you don’t want to be falsely accused by women of raping.”

Tony Chatman: Well, is that a valid fear? No. But it’s a fear that has to be addressed, right? But the truth is, I believe a lot of what your topic speaking of is exactly what people want. So, we have this fear of walking on eggshells. It’s not a valid fear, and the problem is if we knew more people who weren’t like us, we would realize these conversations are actually easier than we imagined. And I’ll use this as my example. I’ve come to realize if I can’t joke with you about race, you’re not safe.

Mike Domitrz: That’s brilliant.

Tony Chatman: We’ll be in somewhere and I’ll just throw out a joke, and I’ve had people who I’ve really respected go, “Just.” Their reaction made me go, “Man, if we can’t have this joke.” And I’m joking about my own race, let me make that clear. So this is very self-deprecating. If it’s that uncomfortable for you, then there’s conversations we’ll never have.

Mike Domitrz: And there’s a clarifier that you are joking about your own race. When you say that’s different, then if a white man is cracking jokes about black individuals …

Tony Chatman: Here’s the difference I would say. If I initiate it and I start a joke, and then you come back with me, that’s cool. And if we built a relationship. Part of this whole thing is affected by relationship, context, intent and impact. Relationship, content, intent and impact. If we have a relationship that I know you’re safe and you start joking, it’s a joke. Dude, so if you played basketball with me and my friends, who are of every nationality and age you can imagine, if you recorded it, you would say, “There is so much discrimination going on. It’s really bad.”

Tony Chatman: But in context, we’re all friends, we’re all safe. And what made it funny is we all know it’s not true. It’s the fear that maybe you don’t believe this is not true that makes it unsafe.

Mike Domitrz: I think that’s why it’s important discussion for as our listeners are thinking that the safety is built on the relationship. I think that’s such an important, beautiful thing you said there. For someone to walk away and go, “Oh, I can say whatever I want because I feel safe.”

Tony Chatman: Right, right, right.

Mike Domitrz: That’s not a relationship. You’re talking about you, so that’s the difference there. Tony, this has been amazing. Thank you for such an incredible conversation.

Tony Chatman: Thanks so much for having me. Hopefully we’ll continue this one day.

Mike Domitrz: I would love to continue, we’ll definitely would love to have you back in the future. And for everybody listening, it’s We’ll have all of the links to Tony on the show notes as always.

Tony Chatman: Thanks, everybody, for listening. Mike, thanks for having me on.

Mike Domitrz: It’s been fantastic.

Mike Domitrz: Before I answer this week’s question of the week, I’d love to ask you a question. Would you please subscribe to this podcast? The Respect Podcast with Mike Domitrz. By subscribing, you can make a huge impact. Now you might be wondering, “Mike, how does my subscribing to your podcast make a huge impact?” Well here’s how. For every person that subscribes, it raises the rankings of the show on the search engines. So for people who care about respect like yourself, when they’re doing a search for podcast, they’re more likely to find the show, thus providing an awesome opportunity for us to spread more respect around this world. And all you do is hit subscribe under your podcast.

Mike Domitrz: Plus, the second benefit is by subscribing, you automatically get every episode right into your phone or whatever device you are listening to the podcast on. It happens automatically. So subscribing also makes your life easier.

Mike Domitrz: Now let’s get into this week’s question of the week. Oh, and by the way, you can always ask your questions of the week by joining us on Facebook in our discussion group. It’s called the Respect Podcast discussion group. Go there on Facebook and ask whatever questions you would like me to answer and/or address in this segment of the show, and then listen to each episode to find out when your question is included.

Mike Domitrz: The question of the week is: Mike, how do I get my friend to change their beliefs? Well we have to stop by understanding you’re not going to change their beliefs. You have to help open them to a possibility of them choosing to change their beliefs, and that’s the key. We all want to stop thinking about how to change others, and instead how to engage others. How do I ask some questions that get them thinking and not with an agenda to change them, but to have a genuine conversation? That’s the key, let’s engage instead of trying to change.

Mike Domitrz: Do you know what I would love? I would love to hear your answer to this week’s question of the week. So would you please answer what your answer would have been if you were asked that question today on the show? All you do is go to our Facebook page. We have a special group where we have these discussions called the Respect Podcast discussion group. So the Respect Podcast discussion group, and share with us what would your answer have been to this week’s question of the week. And if take a moment, post us a new question for future episodes. What question would you like to hear me answer on an upcoming episode?

Mike Domitrz: That’s all done on Facebook in our special group, which is the Respect Podcast discussion group. Can’t wait to see you there.

Mike Domitrz: Thank you for joining us for this episode of The Respect Podcast, which was sponsored the Date Safe Project at And remember, you can always find me at


Mike Domitrz, CSP

Mike Domitrz, CSP

Speaker, Author, and Authority on Respect Culture For almost 3 decades, leading institutions around the world and the US Military have been turning to Mike for helping them transform their culture. To have Mike help your organization ignite this vital and necessary conversation, call 833-801-0247 or email