Whether you’re a person of color, someone with a disability, an older person, part of the LGBTQA community or female, you’ve probably experienced some form of prejudice in the workplace – whether it’s coming from the clients, your bosses or your peers.
In fact, you may be prepared to handle overt prejudice whenever you encounter it, but what about microaggressions?
What are microaggressions?
According to a psychologist who has written extensively on the subject, microaggressions are “the everyday slights, indignities, put-downs and insults that people of color, women, LGBT populations or those who are marginalized experience in their day-to-day interactions with people.”
Because these comments are subtle, it’s harder to call out the speaker on their actions. They may simply respond by saying that you’re “too sensitive.”
Examples of microaggressions include comments like:
- “Have you ever tried to have a relationship with someone of the opposite gender?”
- “So, who is the boy, and who is the girl in your relationship?”
- “You speak pretty decent English for someone of your race.”
- “You’re Asian, so you must be good at math!”
- “You’re very articulate. You don’t sound Black at all.”
- “You’d feel better and probably get better if you just got more fresh air and exercise.”
When someone treats you as a stereotype and makes assumptions about your life based on the speaker’s own biases, that’s a microaggression. Make no mistake, this is just as discriminatory – and can create a workplace that’s just as hostile – as something more obvious.
When you’ve been targeted at work because of your differences, that kind of discrimination may be illegal. Find out what it takes to assert your legal rights.