9 things people think are fine to say at work - but are actually racist, sexist, or offensive
- Unconscious bias is everywhere - especially in the workplace.
- To avoid a toxic workplace culture, it's important to know which phrases and actions can make employees from different backgrounds or identities feel uncomfortable and targeted.
- These unconscious expressions of racism or sexism are known as microaggressions.
Microaggressions are unconscious expressions of racism or sexism. They come out in seemingly innocuous comments by people who might be well-intentioned.
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Because microaggressions are so subtle, it's hard to know if you're committing one or if you're on the receiving end."One thing is that they are in a sense ambiguous, so that the recipient is apt to feel vaguely insulted, but since the words look and sound complimentary, on the surface (they're most often positive), she can't rightly feel insulted and doesn't know how to respond," Robin Lakoff, Professor Emerita of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, told Business Insider.
Here are some of the most common microaggressions:
'You're so articulate'
'Oh, sorry, wrong person'
'My boss is crazy'
'Where are you actually from?'
'Your name is so hard to pronounce'
'I think you're in the wrong room — this is the programmers' meeting'
'Are you an intern? You look so young!'
'Is that your real hair?'
(Interrupting) 'Well, actually, I think…'
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