BY: SHAMSUL ALAM
In the office, day-to-day interface among co-workers contains a wide variety of personalities and many different levels of conversation. What happens when those conversations accumulation toward stereotyping– and in particular, the inconspicuous kind?
Most often, these micro-aggressions stems from assumptions build about a person based on their race, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, or age.
6 common microaggression are given below-
- “You should be good at this.” —
In a team-building exercise combining a group of unacquainted employees, the team leader assigns a mathematical component of an exercise to the only team member of Asian descent, thus meaning a pattern that all Asian people are good at math.
- “You seem so smart.” —
A comment to an articulate African-American man, rashly implying it unusual for a man of color to be well-spoken.
- “She’s a piece of work.” —
The terms used to describe a man working to climb the corporate ladder, i.e. assetive, a go-getter, competent, are often quite different when describing a woman doing the same thing, i.e., pushy, shrill… or worse.
- “Hold-on Grandpa, let me show you how that works.” —
Even though they are likely meant in fun, jokes about older employees being out of touch with technology play into a stereotype that is often untrue, and can hinder career advancement or opportunity for the older employee.
- “Don’t be shy. We want to hear what you think.” —
Talker addressing Latino or Native American thing in a group setting, the implication of which could be deduced as encouraging assimilation toward a dominant culture.
- “You’re being paranoid.” —
Denial of the existence of heterosexism or transphobia, i.e. telling a gay friend or employee that he/she is wrong or silly in thinking someone is discriminating against him/her, thus implying that such bias does not exist.
Conversely, judgment and intent to corral unintended micro-aggression can lead to an overwhelming sense for employees that they can’t even think without being biased. The best way is to address micro-aggressions from a broad perspective with the aim on a positive company culture, respectful behavior, and conscious and careful articulation of thoughts.