The Uh Oh Syndrome

In this program, Robbins introduces the concept of “mental models,” explaining where they come from and why we hate it so much when we encounter things that don’t fit those models.
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Cultural and Neuro-biological Forces

While certain cultural and neuro-biological forces compel us to be closed-minded towards anything new or different, we have it in our power to overcome these influences so that we can comfortably entertain new ideas and be more accepting of those who differ from us.

Robbins is one of today’s leading diversity and inclusion experts. Widely known for his thought-provoking stories, humor and practical application of principles from neurobiology and sociology, Robbins tackles tough topics in a way that is entertaining, understandable and non-threatening.

In The Uh-Oh Syndrome, Robbins introduces the concept of “mental models”, explaining where they come from and why we hate it so much when we encounter things that don’t fit those models.

In Section 1, Steve explores the following key points: That we all have stereotypes and mental models in our heads when we see or meet other people. Our personal background and culture is an important factor in building these mental models and stereotypes.

If we don’t critically examine some of the mental models in our heads, we will tend to make mistakes about other people. We can call this unintentional intolerance.

In Section 2, Steve talks about the neuroscience behind our tendency to form stereotypes and fall back on them in our interpersonal interactions. He points out that the brain, like all living organisms, has evolved to do things as efficiently as possible. As a result, it categorizes sensory cues to make decision-making easier and response time shorter.

In Section 3, Steve explains the phrase, Unintentional Intolerance, which he coined. As he says, sometimes we mean to do the right thing but the outcomes are negative, especially for other people. How does that happen? One reason is that the cognitive scripts we are running unconsciously won’t work if the variables change, and in today’s fast-paced workplace, the variables are changing all the time. This section explores the dynamics behind this behavioral pattern.

Section 4 takes us from Intolerance to Inclusion. Steve describes how our cognitive scripts can be triggered by a word, a sound, an emotion, or a smell. And, these reactions are even more easily triggered under stress. However, even though both culture and our brain’s biology have saddled us with hundreds of scripts that we never wrote and would prefer not to have, there are ways to overcome this heritage and gain some significant competitive advantage.

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  1. Discover how experience and biology shape our perspectives and influence our reactions to the people and world around us.
  2. Examine how we sometimes wind up being “unintentionally intolerant.”
  3. Recognize how closed-mindedness and exclusion take place.
  4. Explore ways to become more mindful and inclusive

In the conclusion, viewers are reminded that diversity equals strength. Since none of us can know everything… the more we include the opinions and ideas of others, the better our organizations will be at innovation and problem solving.



The Uh-Oh Syndrome package includes:

  1. Chaptered DVD with the main video, 28 minutes in length. The DVD also includes Extra Features: FAQ where Steve answers questions from trainers and then tells 3 of his favorite stories – Duct tape, Eat your vegetables, and Mini-vans!
  2.  CD-ROM with a comprehensive 57-page Leaders’ Guide, reproducible Participant Handouts, special Activity Handouts and a Powerpoint presentation.

Other Training Products Available

The Steve Robbins Inclusion Innovation Bundle