Microaggressions are not outright insults or jokes, but subtle things people say which can often end up making the person — at the receiving end of the comment — feel demeaned.

Even words like ‘relax’ or condescending smiles can throw you off while at work, and can end up being pervasive. Sometimes microaggressions are so subtle that you may not end up noticing them, but still feel uncomfortable after a particular conversation. The person at the receiving end of the micro aggressive statements is usually made out to be the ‘Other’ (different), or in some way less than.

Microaggressions are often meant as compliments. For example, women at work will hear surprised compliments about how smart they are, or how ambitious they are

The next time you hear something that makes you feel uncomfortable, here’s how you can deal with it:

1. Don’t act aggressively: The person, who is commenting on you, is doing it from a place of ignorance. If you respond with aggression, it could work against you, as the person who is giving the comment wasn’t overtly trying to be aggressive. 

2. Ask for clarification about what they have said: Try and find out what they meant when they said what they did, and try and explain why what they said could have been taken wrongly. For example, if after a work presentation, someone comments on how they are surprised at how well it went, ask them what they mean by that. Most of the time, simply asking them what they meant will help them realise it was inappropriate.

3. Keep your context in mind: If you are in a position where you need something from someone — in an interview or at a negotiating table — the best thing to do could be to let these insults bounce off you, and focus on getting your work done.

4. Avoid victimising yourself: Nobody is a victim here. Give people the benefit of the doubt, and move on. At the end of the day you know who you are, and what you are capable of!

Also Read: What You Can Do To Negotiate Better