What’s a Micro-affirmation?

That was my question today, when my Facebook friend Gene Deel posted this:

[T]he opposite of a micro-aggression is micro-affirmation (or as my workplace calls it, ‘microsupport’) – “displaying small and subtle acts of kindness, caring, and appreciation”.

Facebook post

I’ve read about micro-aggressions for years. They are often things people do that they don’t even realize that they are doing and may not even consciously intend (like moving away from someone wearing insignia of a religion different from yours). Many people who are minorities in their communities report that micro-aggressions exhaust them.

I can sense hostility in others, but am not sure if I consciously notice micro-aggressions, myself. So, I was very happy to discover there are also micro-affirmations! I began to wonder what those would look like. Is it nodding in support when someone is sharing something difficult, smiling during Zoom meetings, leaning in toward someone who seems to be struggling?

Maybe we could just spread bubbles or confetti everywhere? J/K. Photo by @criene via Twenty20.

I was not really sure, so I looked it up and found an interesting article, called “Not-so-random acts of kindness: How you can use micro-affirmations to fight unconscious bias in the workplace.” Aha! Back when I was working so hard to learn about unconscious bias, this would have been a useful concept to share. I guess it’s not too late!

The article gave workplace examples, such as praising coworkers in public, saying hello in the hallway, or bringing up details of something they mentioned earlier (to show you value them and pay attention). These are conscious acts that any of us could do to help counteract micro-aggressions.

I think this would count as a macro-affirmation. Photo by @tdyuvbanova via Twenty20

I like that the article reminds people to do their actions naturally and authentically. Then they say to use appreciative inquiry, which I always feel sounds forced, but maybe that’s because I’m not good at it.

In any case, I’m just starting to think about this, but I do believe that consciously making an effort to treat the people you come across equally and kindly can make the world a better place. It might counter-act some of the hostility, negativity, and aggression that swirls around us sometimes.

What do you think about micro-affirmations? Too hippie-dippie or a good idea?

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

6 thoughts on “What’s a Micro-affirmation?”

  1. Politeness on the phone (even when we’ve had to wait a long time; asking for a person’s name if they forget to tell us saying ” I want to honor you for the work you are doing.”; honoring all workmen for their particular skills, complements….. things we , ourselves, would appreciate……

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the definition your friend gave: “”displaying small and subtle acts of kindness, caring, and appreciation.,” and think it’s a good idea. I also think sharing laughter with someone else – even a smile or laugh about a bird’s antics or a pretty flower – would be a micro-affirmation, a positive emotional connection.

    Liked by 2 people

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