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How can I deal with microaggressions at work?

Microaggressions are small, seemingly minor slights that target minorities in the workplace. While these issues may not seem significant, over time they add up to create a hostile and unwelcoming environment for some workers. Knowing how to counter these slights in a meaningful and constructive way is crucial, according to

Comments about appearance are hardly ever welcome in the workplace. This is especially true regarding comments about a person's hair, which many women of color are unfortunately subjected to. In this case, it's best to consider who is responsible for the slight. If it's a co-worker, feel free to pull the person aside and explain why comments like that are offensive. If the person is in a position of authority, it's usually best to seek out a sympathetic individual who is on the same professional level. While it's unfortunate, the words of this person could hold more weight, especially if they are in good standing in a company or organization. 

Comments about how articulate a person is or how surprising it is that they speak English so well can also be a problem for some workers. This is especially true for people with ethnic origins that are considered outside the norm, which frequently affects Asian-Americans and Latinos. This can be particularly difficult since the people relaying these comments often think they're being complimentary. A good tact, in this case, is to acknowledge the compliment but also highlight why it is construed as offensive.

Minorities and women in the workplace also have issues with being talked over or interrupted. This is extremely frustrating, especially if it occurs on a frequent basis. When this occurs, remember there is strength in numbers. Try to find other workers also experiencing the same issues and have them speak up when someone is being talked over. Support is key when faced with microaggressions, especially when they happen frequently in the workplace. 

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