Microaggressions In The Workplace
Microaggressions in the workplace are defined as “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” In other words, microaggressions in the workplace are everyday occurrences that may seem harmless but can make a person feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or even threatened.
Types of workplace microaggressions:
Behavioral – Crossing boundaries in personal space, making assumptions about someone’s abilities or qualifications, ignoring or talking over someone, and giving unsolicited advice.
Verbal – Making racially insensitive jokes or disrespectful comments, using offensive language, and using someone’s name or cultural background as an insult.
Environmental – Displaying racially insensitive imagery or symbols, segregated workspaces, and offensive language in workplace communications (e.g., job postings and emails).
Examples Of Microaggressions In The Workplace:
Microaggressions in the workplace can be classified into several categories, with the most frequent being microassaults, microinsults, and microinvalidations. Each form can impact the target’s ability to feel accepted at work and home, which is critical in achieving their full potential and day-to-day lives.
A microassault is an intentional prejudice or criticism against a marginalized group. It is a direct and explicit attack that can be physical, verbal, or nonverbal. This microassault is usually done to assert dominance over the target and can be motivated by hate, bigotry, or ignorance. It includes using slurs, derogatory comments, telling offensive jokes, mocking a group’s dress or cultural traditions, and making physical threats or racially motivated violence.
A microinsult is an indirect put-down or slight against a marginalized group. It is a subtle form of prejudice that is often unintentional and done without realizing the potential harm it can cause. Microinsults can be verbal or nonverbal, and they communicate a lack of respect for the target. Examples include using offensive language, making assumptions about someone’s abilities or qualifications, ignoring or talking over someone, and giving unsolicited advice.
Microinvalidation is a message that a person’s worth or reality is invalid. It invalidates the individual’s experiences, feelings, or thoughts. This can be done through words or actions that deny, trivialize, or minimize a person’s reality—for example, telling someone that they are being too sensitive, that their experiences are not real, or that their feelings are not valid.
How To Address Microaggressions In The Workplace:
If you witness a microaggression in the workplace, you can do a few things to address the situation.
Steps to address microaggression in the workplace:
Acknowledge the microaggression.
Name the behavior or action as a microaggression.
Explain how the microaggression makes you feel.
Ask the perpetrator to stop the behavior.
If the situation does not improve, report the microaggression to a supervisor or human resources.
1) Acknowledge the microaggression:
The first step is to acknowledge that a microaggression has occurred. This can be done by saying something like, “I noticed that you…” or “When you said/did….” This helps ensure the other person knows the behavior and its impact. This also sets the stage for the conversation that will follow.
2) Name the behavior or action as a microaggression:
The next step is to name the behavior or action as a microaggression. This can be done by saying, “That was a microaggression.” This helps to label the behavior and its impact. It also sends a clear message that the behavior is not acceptable.
3) Explain how the microaggression makes you feel:
The next step is to explain how the microaggression makes you feel. This helps the other person to understand the impact of their behavior. It also allows them to see how their actions have affected them.
4) Ask the perpetrator to stop the behavior:
The next step is to ask the perpetrator to stop the behavior. This can be done by saying, “I would appreciate it if you would stop…” or “Please do not….” This sends a clear message that the behavior is unacceptable and that you expect it to stop.
5) If the situation does not improve, report the microaggression to a supervisor or human resources:
For example, suppose the situation does not improve after you have acknowledged the microaggression and asked the perpetrator to stop. In that case, you may need to report the incident to a supervisor or human resources. This will help ensure the behavior is addressed and does not continue.
Microaggressions are often subtle and unintentional but can have a big impact, potentially leading to decreased productivity, missed workdays, and a general feeling of unease. You can help address microaggressions in the workplace and create a more inclusive environment by taking these steps.
Tips To Prevent Microaggressions:
What are some things you can do to prevent microaggressions in the workplace?
Educate yourself and others about microaggressions.
Be aware of your own biases and assumptions.
Check your words and actions for potential microaggressions.
Create a safe and inclusive environment.
Address microaggressions when they occur.
1. Educate yourself and others about microaggressions:
One of the best things you can do to prevent microaggressions in the workplace is to educate yourself and others about them. This can be done by reading books, articles, or blogs. It can also be done by attending workshops or training sessions. This will help to raise awareness and understanding of microaggressions and their impact.
2. Be aware of your own biases and assumptions:
Another thing you can do to prevent microaggressions in the workplace is to be aware of your own biases and assumptions. This means taking the time to examine your own beliefs and attitudes. It also means being open to learning about other cultures and perspectives. This will help you to avoid making assumptions about others and their experiences.
3. Check your words and actions for potential microaggressions:
Another thing you can do to prevent microaggressions in the workplace is to check your words and actions for potential microaggressions. This means being mindful of how you speak to and interact with others. It also means being aware of the impact of your words and actions. This will help you to avoid unintentionally causing harm to others.
4. Create a safe and inclusive environment:
Another thing you can do to prevent microaggressions in the workplace is to create a safe and inclusive environment. This means making sure that everyone feels welcome, respected, and valued. It also means having policies and procedures in place to address incidents of discrimination or harassment. This will help to create a workplace where everyone can feel comfortable and respected.
5. Address microaggressions when they occur:
Finally, one of the best things you can do to prevent microaggressions in the workplace is to address them when they occur. This means being aware of microaggressions that happen around you. It also means speaking up and taking action when you see or experience a microaggression. This will help to create a workplace where microaggressions are not tolerated.
Microaggressions are a big problem in the workplace. The good news is that we can all do something to address microaggressions in the workplace. We need to start by recognizing when they happen and calling them out. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you see or experience a microaggression.
You may also want to consider talking to your HR department or creating an anti-microaggression policy for your workplace. With everyone working together, we can make our workplaces more inclusive and respectful. Have you experienced or witnessed a microaggression at work? What did you do about it?