My wife, Sheila came home from an Ending Racism Conference in Baltimore a few weeks ago at which 1500 people attended. She and her Interplay colleagues presented at several plenary sessions and it was as she said, “an amazing conference.
One of the ideas she specifically mentioned was about “micro-aggressions “ which is a term that was coined by Chester Pierce in 1970 and relates to the idea that racism or sexism occurs in subtle ways in which demeaning statements, not intended to be racist are made.
- “Me: Hey, should I go to a steakhouse or to a sushi place for dinner with my family?”
Friend: I think you should go to the steakhouse because you guys know how to make sushi, right?
- “Our principal tells us via intercom system some basic announcements. Proceeds with a few innocent reminders about school policy on dress code. Then – “And ladies, please make sure you’re not showing too much cleavage. We don’t want our male students getting distracted!”
As you can read, micro-aggressions are understated attempts at making a point that people would never be open to really saying in normal conversation. Bottom line…be sensitive to how you speak and consider how you think about other people’s race, ethicity or gender
But even better, what would happen if we decide we going to start throwing out micr-niceities. Microniceties would be affirming statements that we would say to people at work and in our regular life to affirm what we do well and how we are striving to accomplish our objectives in life in way that brings out the best in us.
We could not only use microniceties in the workplace but could apply them to our personal relationships, with our kids, our partners and even our friends.
We might tell our co-worker:
- “Thanks for getting your update into me for the meeting scheduled for later in the week. It will help me get things done before my “self-imposed deadline”
Or our partner
- “ I really appreciate you putting away the dishes from the dishwasher. It makes things so much easier around here.
- “ I am so proud of how hard you worked to get that project done for school. I knew you could do it and you should feel good about it…I do!”
Try some micro-niceties today and see if you don’t evoke a smile…on both sides of the conversation