Perhaps the trickiest thing about micro-aggressions is that they are embedded in our society, sometimes both in our personal lives and work lives. They often slip into people’s minds and words without them being aware of their impact. Sometimes, even those who we respect and have good intentions make mistakes and do not realize impacts of careless remarks. Dealing with these situations can be tough. Here are some suggestions of how to respond in such scenarios:
- Pause: Take some time to reflect and ask for clarification if necessary. Give yourself time to figure out how to proceed.
- Examine your assumptions: Getting defensive usually results in an argument. Consider the other side, and try to make your fixed mindset into a growth mindset. Sometimes intended meanings can be lost in translation.
- Cut some slack: When someone offends us, we usually think that it’s a reflection of their character. It may be worth giving them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they have something going on in their lives that made them lash out.
- Share the impact: Help the person understand how they made you feel. Some good ways to respond could be: “You may not have realized, but….” “This was likely not your intent….”
- Share another perspective: Saying “That’s not always right” is much better for conversation and less defensive-sounding than saying “That’s wrong”. Try saying “I really don’t agree with that.” or “Another way of looking at this is….” or “How I interpreted what you said is…”