What is a Microaggression:
Everyday verbal or nonverbal snubs or insults. These can be intentional or unintentional and communicate hostile or negative messages to a targeted individual or marginalized group.
Types of Microaggressions:
Microassault: name-calling, avoidant behavior, purposeful discriminatory actions.
Microinsult: rude or insensitive behavior that could demean an individual’s identities (race, ethnicity, orientation, gender) these are often subtle and or hidden and are offensive to the recipient.
Micro-invalidation: dismissive behavior toward the experiences of historically disadvantaged individuals.
Ways to intervene:
Ask the speaker to elaborate. This will give you more information about where they are coming from, and may also help the speaker to become aware of what they are saying.
“Say more about that.” “Can you elaborate your point?”
Mirror what the speaker is saying. This can help make the invisible (i.e. unconscious bias) visible for the speaker.
“So it sounds like you think…” “So, what I heard you say…”
Create a different way to look at a situation. “Have you ever thought about it like this…?”
Shift the focus to a different person or topic. This is a particularly helpful strategy when someone is asked to speak for their entire race, cultural group, etc.
“Let’s shift the conversation…”
Even if the moment, or microaggression has passed, go back and address it.
This concept is important, as research indicates that unaddressed microaggressions can leave just as much of a negative impact as the microaggression itself.
“I want to go back to something that was brought up in our 1:1 last week.”
“Let’s rewind five minutes…”
After a meeting, during a 1:1, over email, etc. check in with team members – both those who verbalized microaggressions and those who may have been affected or offended by the microaggression.
Just like revisit, the check in is just as important since research indicates that unaddressed microaggressions can leave just as much of a negative impact as the microaggression itself.
“I just wanted to check in about our meeting today when we were talking about [insert] and the conversation turned to [insert]. How are you doing?”
Adapted from Northnode Domestic Violence Curriculum and College of the Holy Cross, Diversity Leadership and Education, 2008