How to Address Microaggressions in the Workplace


Microaggressions happen everywhere, including at work. We call microaggressions “micro” aggressions, but their overall impact can be measured on a “macro” scale. Microaggressions in the workplace create a huge impact on people’s mental, spiritual, and even physical health.


Microaggressions usually come up from our deeply-rooted biases against those who are different from us. Usually as a result of our upbringing, a lot of people don’t know they have these biases until they come face-to-face with them in a conversation or confrontation.


How to address microaggressions


Collect your thoughts before addressing the other individual

Ponder whether it would be more helpful to talk to them in person or write them an email. Let the individual know what was said, how and why it hurt you. 


Be assertive

Being the recipient of a microaggression can be emotional and stressful. It might be tempting to respond in a passive-aggressive manner. However, in the workplace, the assertive approach is likely to have the best outcome and lead to a constructive conversation. Be assertive but calm. Address the other person through the use of “I” statements. Doing so can help the other person understand how their microaggression has affected you directly in a clear and straightforward way.


Reach out for help

After experiencing a microaggression, consider reaching out to a trusted co-worker, a loved one or mental health professional to process the experience. This ensures that you don’t garner negative and detrimental feelings, which may affect your mental health. 


How to avoid microaggressions?


Expose yourself to diverse perspectives to help you identify unconscious biases and build the awareness necessary to align your actions and words with your values. There are a myriad of resources available to educate yourself.


As you continue to educate yourself and learn, you can share resources and raise awareness among your friends and colleagues about unconscious biases, the different types of microaggressions that exist, and the fact that we are all capable of committing them.


We’re all biased, we all make mistakes, and we’ve all probably committed microaggressions against others. But that doesn’t excuse the problematic or insensitive ways we interact with others. It’s not about accepting your biases as inevitable, it’s about recognizing how they affect others and untangling them from your core beliefs.


Check out P2L’s course on addressing microaggressions and micro-inequities.

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