• Linda R. Taliaferro

How To Handle Feedback That Is Clearly A Microaggression

Receiving feedback is a powerful tool you should never shy away from.

Feedback gives you an inside look into the people you work with. When they share their experiences working with you, that gives you knowledge. Knowledge to shift your narrative and navigate your colleagues towards a new perspective that more truthfully represents who you are.

So don’t shy away from receiving feedback. Embrace it, and let it help groom you to become a better representative of YOU and a more confident and competent executive.

What do you do when feedback isn’t feedback?

“The only thing worse than feeling invisible in the workplace is feeling seen – judged – for the wrong reasons.”

This quote from Kalia Simms in her article, “Microaggressions in the Workplace: How to Identify & Respond to Them,” sums it up beautifully.

As black and brown women in the workplace, there comes a time when feedback is no longer constructive. The criticism you use and leverage for the good of your career turns into microaggressions. When that day comes:

How do you handle it?

How do you address it?

How do you protect yourself from it?

The Art of Handling Workplace Microaggressions

Before I get into the steps, the first thing you need to do is prepare yourself mentally. You have to develop grit and resilience so you can avoid sinking into imposter syndrome and instead continue to be unapologetically you.

Find a Mentor or Coach

Before you delve into confronting microaggressions, you need support and accountability. You can find these in the trustworthy people in your network or seek out a professional coach.

Embrace, Don’t Minimize Your Emotions

Take a pause and reflect on how this experience is making you feel. Whether you need to go for a short walk or turn your camera off, practice self-care in the moment.

These actions help you avoid reaching the dangerous point of accepting and reflecting on the microaggressions which lead to you blaming yourself. Recognize your feelings, own them and give yourself grace.

Speak Your Truth

This is where the real work comes in. If you are going to change your experience, or at the very least make individuals aware of what they have done, you have to speak your truth. You must share how the microaggression made you feel and why.

Remember this tip. It does not help to go into this conversation with your mind made-up about hostile intent. You don’t know until you do your part in initiating this conversation and receiving their response.

Speak, educate, call out, explain…

However you want to label it, do it constructively so that you can speak your truth and try to get to their truth with no emotional distractions.

Be the Author of Your Workplace Environment

These three steps are what it takes to help you create the workplace environment that brings you satisfaction and peace.

Microaggressions have been a part of the black and brown workplace experience; unfortunately, there is no end in sight. But you can do your part in your place of work by holding leaders accountable and advocating for education initiatives centered around microaggressions.

Help create an environment where you are judged for all of the right reasons, not because of race, ethnicity, and ignorance.

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