These everyday subtle, intentional, or unintentional interactions or behaviors can make one feel like they do not belong or are not accepted in the workplace, and can have a huge impact in your overall performance
Given that you spend the majority of your life at work, microaggressions in the workplace have a profound impact on your mental, spiritual, and even physical health.
Microaggressions can be:
- Verbal – when someone says something offensive or disrespectful to you.
- Behavioral – insensitive or problematic actions that often play into identity stereotypes. For instance, being asked to smile more in your performance review.
- Environmental – expressed in society through lack of representation, inclusion, and diversity.
Microaggressions can significantly and adversely impact organizational health by creating a toxic work culture that corrodes your engagement and overall work experience. Here are some ways to recognize and overcome them:
- Challenge the stereotype – Give information and share your own informed opinion. You can also offer alternative perspectives.
- Use humor – Exaggerate the comments and use gentle sarcasm. For instance, someone says ‘ she plays like a girl. You could ask ‘ you mean she plays like Serena Williams?’
- Pretend you don’t understand – As people try to explain their comments, they often realize how silly they sound.
- Separate intent from impact – You could tell them ‘ I know you didn’t realize this but when you said …(insert their comments) it was hurtful and offensive. Instead, you could say…(different language )
- Promote empathy – Ask how they would feel if someone said something like that about their partner, child, or sibling.
- Restate or paraphrase – You could say ‘ I think I heard you saying…(paraphrase their words) is that correct?
- Remind them of the rules and regulations – Remind them that that behavior is against the code of conduct and could get them in trouble.
- Share your own process – We have all participated in microaggression one way or the other before we knew better. Share how you became aware of your behavior and changed.
- Encourage employees to speak out – Create an open space where other employees can speak out, and when they do, take complaints or allegations about discriminatory behavior seriously.