Compliance Blog

Practice Microaffirmations to Help Build a More Inclusive Workplace

May 24, 2022 | Mark Hudson

microaffirmations

People are often unaware of how their words or actions can send the wrong message to others with different experiences and perspectives than their own. Unintentional slights, snubs or insults – also known as microaggressions – are rooted in unconscious bias and can leave others feeling judged, misunderstood, disrespected and excluded.

While microaggressions lead to alienation, subtle and intentional acts of kindness called “microaffirmations” can foster an inclusive culture where everyone feels welcome and valued. As part of a comprehensive training approach to preventing  microaggressions, practicing microaffirmations in daily interactions can have a positive effect on workplace culture. 

Mary Rowe, a pioneer in the understanding microaggressions, states that practicing microaffirmations not only increases one’s tendency to be “universally respectful” to others, it can also be a step in counteracting the effects of bias, including racism, sexism, ableism and ageism.

Microaffirmations acknowledge an individual’s identity, recognize and validate their experience and expertise, build confidence and trust, and foster belonging. They can be conveyed through nods, facial expressions, choices of words, and tones of voice that communicate inclusion, caring, and listening. Examples of microaffirmations are publicly giving a co-worker accolades for an accomplishment, referring to specifics of a past conversation to show that you listened and remembered, and saying hello to someone as they enter the workplace.

These are other common microaffirmations that let team members know they are valued and included:

  • Make a concerted effort to pronounce names correctly
  • Respect and use people’s pronouns
  • Invite someone to participate in a business event, committee or project
  • Stop by someone’s office for a chat, socialize with them and get to know about their life outside of work
  • Listen to individuals, pay attention to their words and ask thoughtful questions
  • Acknowledge important holidays and life milestones
  • Give people credit by acknowledging their contributions
  • Offer support and stand up for people when they’re being discredited or demeaned
  • Provide positive feedback that helps everyone recognize and build on their strengths 
  • Recognize the different experiences of individuals by inviting them to share their opinions and expertise
  • Use friendly facial expressions and gestures
  • Make eye contact

Traliant Insight

Microaffirmations are small acts of thoughtfulness by employees and managers that convey to others they are welcome, valued and included at work. Ongoing employee training that explains how to incorporate microaffirmations into daily interactions can help reduce unconscious bias and microaggressions in the workplace.

Access a free trial of our Microaggressions in the Workplace course: