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?
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 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?