typewriter text of the word microagression

Microagressions and how to deal with them.

30 Apr
by Suzie Business Owner & Senior HRBP

In today’s world, where diversity, equity, and inclusion are valued, discussions about discrimination in its various forms are becoming increasingly common.

Addressing microaggressions is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of fostering an inclusive workplace. Let’s delve into what microaggressions entail.

Microaggressions are comments or actions directed at individuals that make them feel uncomfortable, small, and marginalised.

They can refer to aspects such as hairstyle, clothing, appearance, or role, ultimately serving to “other” the person.

Despite the term “micro,” their impact is significant. Research indicates that experiencing microaggressions over time, even when seemingly harmless, can have real effects on mental and physical health.

It’s important to consider both the impact and the intent behind microaggressions. While individuals may not always intend harm, the impact on the recipient is what matters most.

How should we respond when witnessing someone use a microaggression, either toward someone else or ourselves?

Firstly, awareness is key. Understanding what constitutes a microaggression and how it manifests enables us to educate ourselves and be more mindful.

When someone experiences a microaggression, they typically have three options: addressing it in the moment, addressing it later, or letting it go.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach; different situations may call for different actions. For instance, if someone is misgendered in a meeting, a leader could promptly correct the pronouns to affirm the importance of respecting everyone’s identity.

If you have a good rapport with someone who has made a microaggressive comment, it’s important to approach the situation thoughtfully. Rather than publicly calling them out, a private conversation allows you to express how their words affected you and offer understanding. Communicating that you recognise they may not have intended harm can facilitate mutual understanding.

Ultimately, if these approaches don’t resolve the issue, speaking to a manager or HR may be necessary to address the situation effectively.

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