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From Awareness to Action: How to Respond Microaggressions To Create an Inclusive Workplace

Picture source : Sandip University

We've all had situations in the workplace where someone said or did something that felt hostile or offensive to some aspect of our identity and that person didn't even acknowledge it. These types of actions are known as “microaggression” and can target many aspects of our identity. These hurtful acts can happen to anyone, in any situation, at any level of expertise. To create inclusive, friendly, and healthy workplaces, we must actively combat microaggressions. Building an inclusive workplace requires candid and honest conversations about difficult topics, like sexism, homophobia, and racism – and it's natural for us to fear that we can be micro-aggressive in these kinds of conversations by saying the wrong things. The more we are aware of how microaggressions show up, the more we can work to reduce them in the workplace.

The more aware you are of microaggressions, the more likely you will notice them happening – and wonder how or if you need to intervene. Here are a few ways to be more aware of microaggressions, stop them when we see them, and foster a culture of less infringing work.

1. What’s the right moment to say something?

Consider the environment and think about how to create a safe space for conversation. Consider whether it's best to talk right now (perhaps in front of other people) or talk face-to-face. In some situations, an immediate approach may be sufficient. But no one likes to be embarrassed, and conversations are more likely to get tense if your co-workers feel like you're calling them. So, if you need to confront someone, try to "call them out" by creating a safe environment where you can communicate honestly with that person.

2. What’s your relationship to the person who made the comment?

Do you have a personal relationship with the person who committed the violation? If so, you could say, “Hey, you made a comment earlier that did not sit well with me.” However, if you don't have a personal relationship with this coworker, you might want to think about what you know about their personality and conversation history. You may also need to reach out to other co-workers with whom they are closer to.

3. What’s your personal awareness of the microaggression’s subject?

Be honest about how familiar you are with the topic. For example, you might recognize that a comment is a racial violation, but you don't know the story or all of its implications. In this case, you can talk to the person but acknowledge that you are not an authority on the topic and consider doing some research first or talking to someone more knowledgeable.

Ultimately, being better at responding to microaggressions - while being more aware of our everyday words - is a journey that has a real impact on mental health and well-being. In our workplace. Microaggressions affect everyone, which is why creating a more inclusive and cultural work culture means that each of us must explore our own biases. themselves to perceive them. The goal is not to be shy about communicating with each other but to seize the opportunity to be intentional about it. Creating an inclusive culture where everyone can thrive is not an overnight thing. This requires a continuous process of learning, growing and maturing.

Source : Harvard Business Review

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