Microaggressions - History, Types and How to Avoid Them

The Impact of Microaggressions and Tips to Deal With Them

The effect of microaggressions on personal and public contexts is a current societal issue. Microaggressions are ‘an instance of conduct aimed against individuals or groups in a physical, verbal, or written form.’ Insensitivity and inappropriateness may be offending with certain occurrences. Microaggressions are challenging to describe due to their varying frequency and meaning.

Microaggressions are prevalent in many social contexts, including work, school, sports, and daily life. These are often inadvertent and deemed innocuous by the targets. Sometimes, these incidents insult individuals of a different race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious views, etc. Microaggressions may also influence undesirable social attitudes, including intolerance, prejudice, and violence.

The subtle impact of microaggressions may significantly influence the mental health of those who encounter them. Individuals who are subjected to microaggressions may experience stress and anxiety as a result of the conduct. This may result in depression and other psychological issues. Microaggressions in personal, social, and public contexts may influence the relationship between the targeted individual and their coworkers. The person may begin to feel like a target for mockery and remarks, damaging their self-esteem and confidence level in the process.

Understanding that microaggressions are a kind of personal attack is the first step in dealing with them. Microaggressions may be verbal or physical violence, including pushing, shoving, and dragging. That’s why understanding what makes someone angry is critical. If you know you are prone to this kind of violence, you must avoid it.

Next, you must be aware of your surroundings and limits. If someone places you in an uncomfortable position, urge them to step back or quit the situation. This will help you decide whether you are in danger. Remember to be aggressive and defend yourself when others try to marginalize you. Never forget that these microaggressions are just meant to test your patience and will to live positively.

This article will go through some of the techniques for dealing with microaggressions and addressing these problems to build a more significant environment.

What are Microaggressions?

Microaggressions are referred to as ‘micro-invasive in the natural world. As defined by the American Psychological Association, Microaggressions are best described as any subtle, cumulative, and unintentional verbal, physical, or relationship violence directed at someone because of the victim’s gender, race, sexual orientation, age, or any other characteristic.

Acknowledgments, rude remarks, or generally unpleasant behavior are not considered ‘microaggressions,’ but the term encompasses much more than that. The statements, inquiries, and acts in question are limited to a particular type of statement, query, or action: the types of comments, inquiries, and activities that are harmful because they are directed at an individual’s group membership that has been prejudiced against it or subjected to stereotyping.

Even when they are overlooked, microaggressions can occur in the course of routine business transactions. They are more common than we realize, and because they are so subtle, they can go unnoticed by the intended victim or their victims as well.

History of Microaggressions

Harvard Medical School psychologist Chester Pierce first coined microaggressions in response to his observations of charges exchanged between White and African-American students, particularly on the Harvard campus, during his tenure there in the 1970s. His observations of charges being exchanged between White and Black students served as inspiration for him. A psychologist at Columbia University named Derald Sue popularized and defined the phrase in its broadest sense in 2007.

But it appears critical to emphasize that people who engage in microaggressions may have done so on purpose or may not have done so at all! It all depends upon the circumstances in which they found themselves. Most likely, all of these actions and comments result from prejudices held by one group against other community members, which is the most plausible explanation.

Possibly, people are not aware that their words and actions are causing pain to others, which means that, while microaggressions can be painful, the goal of the microaggression is not simply to cause harm. As a result of this discovery, researchers can begin to think about a solution to the microaggression epidemic. It suggests that if people are made aware of the consequences of their words and actions, they may change both the steps and the terms they use.

Realistically speaking, only a tiny percentage of the population is fully conscious of what they are doing, and some may even be doing it with the intent of causing harm to others. It is ‘the overall way of behaving that is typically suited to the existence of a specific community. Moreover, as per the ‘History of Microaggressions,’ when it comes to understanding diversity and cultural competency, the presence of a ‘culture’ is critical in microaggressions.

Types of Microaggressions

Derald Sue and his colleagues investigated the various types of microaggressions that could occur in the workplace. You can find a complete list of all of the different kinds in the below section:

  • Microassault: As defined by the American Civil Liberties Union, unintentional racism occurs when a person intentionally acts in a discriminatory manner without offending another person. It is the most visible type of microaggression that is noticed when it comes to microaggressions. Almost always, they are done on purpose, and the person who engages in them is fully aware that what they are doing is offensive and degrading to others and that they are doing it on purpose.
  • Microinsult: The term “microinsult” refers to a discriminatory statement or action that is unintentionally discriminatory and is not intended to be biased. When compared to generalized microaggressions, subtlety is more critical microaggressions. Most of the time, these are coded remarks that convey a message or serve as an unintentional compliment. In this case, saying that someone got their job because of affirmative action discrimination would be considered a minor insult.
  • Microinvalidation: As an illustration, when someone’s comment invalidates or minimizes the opinions of a specific group of people, such as the opinions of a particular political party, this is referred to as stereotyping. Micro invalidations include dismissing a persecuted minority’s viewpoints based on being irrelevant. Accusing them of being overly emotional in their response to what has been said, all of which are examples of micro invalidations. This term also refers to any micro attack or micro insult resulting in a micro invalidation.
  • Environmental Microaggression: When everything in a person’s environment keeps sending a message of invalidation to disadvantaged community members, it results in ecological microaggressions.

What are Some Examples of Microaggressions?

When a person’s verbal or nonverbal actions negatively affect microaggressions, this is negatively impacted. Common microaggressions may frequently occur in your daily life, or you may have witnessed or experienced them. Here are some examples of common microaggressions that you might encounter.

  • In an infirmary, a patient is waiting to consult a doctor. Patients automatically assume a woman walks into the room and a midwife or a nurse when this is not the case. This is an example of a sexist microaggression of the first degree.
  • Children who watch television and only see actors of a different race may feel isolated or underrepresented due to the public representation of their race on television and in other media.
  • You should always inquire about someone’s “roots” when meeting someone from a wealthy family.
  • To avoid (or dread) someone based on their appearance, a pedestrian walks down the street while wearing a disguise (i.e., a visible minority).
  • It is considered harassment when someone tells an LGBTQ person that they do not “look homosexual,” or something along those lines.
  • An employee is told that she is far too aggressive after an incident occurs at her place of employment and is advised to calm down.
  • It is common for people from visible minorities (for example, African Americans) to be told that they should be proficient in arithmetic simply because of their skin tone. In the context of black people, microaggressions are referred to as ‘black microaggressions.’
  • The pronouns and words used in communications impose restrictions on females and other groups of individuals (e.g., LGBTQ).
  • When speaking with an Asian doctor, someone might say something along the lines of, “Your parents must have been over the moon.”
  • Using an offensive slang term to describe a particular race has a negative connotation while using the term on purpose is considered racial profiling.

What are the Effects of Microaggressions?

Microaggressions are an inconvenience and, at times, an unpleasant component of daily life for people hurting each other. In the lives of people who are hurting each other, microaggressions are a source of contention. It is possible to live a life free of microaggressions and other forms of social anxiety in the future if you understand what they are and how to avoid them in the first place.

Even though microaggressions are small and insignificant in themselves, scientific evidence has demonstrated that they have a significant impact on the mental health of those who are subjected to them over time.

As examples of the consequences of such decisions in the real world, consider the following scenarios.

  • A person’s ability to participate and concentrate is diminished when they lack confidence in their classmates, professors, and the organization.
  • Burnout is characterized by feelings of exhaustion and low self-esteem.
  • A person’s ability to thrive in a particular environment is hampered in some way.
  • School dropout rates among children are extremely high.

How to Avoid Microaggressions So As Not to Hurt Someone?

Someone who has developed prejudices against disadvantaged communities may find it difficult to change their behavior toward these communities after nurturing these prejudices over time.

To influence someone’s decisions and actions, you can employ a variety of techniques.

  • Expressing empathy for the victim of the microaggression and acknowledging their current and past circumstances and feelings
  • Maintaining a calm and collected demeanor that might help avoid being aggressive or disrespectful of other people’s feelings
  • Understanding and accepting responsibilities for any ingrained prejudices you may have against specific groups; making an effort to learn more about and accept the cultures of those groups
  • Making a firm commitment to eliminating microaggressions from your interactions with other people

How to Respond to Microaggressions?

A large number of people are familiar with the concept of microaggressions. The majority of people come into contact with them regularly as a result of their daily activities. A resident of the country living in the United States, according to reports, surprised the country by refusing to recognize the election results, citing microaggressions as the reason. Microaggressions have become more prevalent in the workplace since the rise of social media and have become particularly prevalent in the corporate sector in recent years. Understand the significance of microaggressions and how to respond to them appropriately are essential skills.

Microaggressions are something that most people are well aware of and can identify when they occur. Most people come into contact with them regularly as a result of their daily activities. A citizen of the country living in the United States, according to reports, recently shocked the nation by refusing to recognize the election results on the grounds of microaggressions. As a result of the digital revolution, microaggressions are becoming more common in the professional sector, particularly in the corporate environment. If you want to be effective, you must first recognize microaggressions for what they are and learn how to respond respectfully.

Also Read:

How to Remove Self-Hate from Life
How to Activate Your Subconscious Mind
How to Motivate Yourself When Feeling Low

Previous article «
Next article »