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2019-05-29 - 8:59 p.m.

Good Article

I recently tried to address microaggressions surrounding mention of a disability ( either mine when relevant- that is related to a task asked to do and just letting it be known while I will do it well, just please ignore that exception for hours worked while I am on this task- just one moment, but then the body language and the short term change in communication toward me and ABOUT me to others OR a number of moments observed in others.)

These thing often suddenly happen after knowledge of a disability whereas they had not occurred before. Its a shift in perception and then treatment of a person resulting in microaggression due to disability.

A microaggression can be excluding a person.

A microaggression can be moments of correction of a person when they actually were spot on accurate.

(That has happened and OTHER co workers noted it. One actually called me to apologize after one meeting in which I was disregarded like I said something off topic and not relevant when they realized it was really on point but then belittled and ignored).

A microaggression can be giving feedback not based on reality. Such as "I didn't like when I gave you constructive criticism you gave excuses."


Really? I was taking notes at that conversation, and actually what I said was "OH, I am sorry I was not aware that came across like that. I intended to reassure. Thank you for letting me know."

All that was heard was the intention ( my stating I was trying to reassure taken as an excuse) and not the actual apology and thanking for making me aware that my communication came out unclear.
So yeah there is room for improvement.

I keep taking ownership of my communication and am willing to improve and welcome constructive criticism.

But it is a microaggression when there is always something to be found to criticize and if there is not really something then there is....well...something found as in ... I think either misperceived, or misconstrued?

Its an odd thing. But taking with grain of salt so to speak aware one is not always conscious of own intonation and how things come across.

But I feel like then when made point of reiterating what was told to be sure understood, and thanking for feedback and stating I would work on it...
the next time met it seemed that was forgotten.

Ce la vie.

I raised the issue of microaggressions because I see it all the time. The person who asks a question about resources for anxiety on a message board in attempt to shut down such conversation on an employee resource group message board for those with disabilities and told the question would be answered privately. I was happy the questioner did not accept that and responded they were sure there are MANY who would benefit from the info- and that this was not a private question.

That happens ALL THE TIME.

More-so that if someone wants to self identify to ask for some sort of support or understanding or even acceptance (Not talking need for accommodation here) just a desire in casual conversation to be known WHO THEY ARE for example...

well it is OK for anyone to be who they are, bring their authentic self and name who they are in respect to race, religion , creed, color , preference of sexuality, family life, love of pets, cat person etc...

but mention disabled

and all conversation or openness to acknowledging that part of the person SHUTS DOWN!

The employee resource group meeting starts with the words "For legal reasons do not talk about anything personal"
That sends a message that if you are a disabled employee
we do not trust you! You are a liability, a risk, a ticking time bomb....
so it sets up this climate of walking on egg shells for everyone, this toxic stressor of not conversing about the fear that is festering. So if not addressed, the fear of unknown only seems to me to get worse.

So it is very ironic to me, that i made an appointment to speak with an exec about this issue.
For a few reasons- one I need to be able to work in peace and not sense this stress of the fear around me.
and two-
I want to raise the issue so we can all be more aware and make our workplace a better, healthier one.
I am NOT the only employee with a disability at work.

Result is that I got feedback that flowed down
that my presentation was not very clear.

YES it is hard to define microagressions
and harder still to pitch a plan of how to address.

So YES I ended "I don't know what to do about this, which is WHY I am coming to you. I want to start by raising awareness."

That is the first step in change.
Identifying a problem and understanding it. The guy wanted me to offer some idea.. we are not near solutioning stage yet.

Result of my meeting?


A HUGE weight lifted from me.

I did not identify an issue and shy away in fear. I boldly addressed it.

I couldn't care less that it means when they weigh us all at work they see me as the biggest burden (shooting messenger is not uncommon).
Just so they don't throw me overboard.
My work should prove my worth in time... as long as they get over their FEAR of me.

I get it. That is all that is going on. They don't understand my intention yet.

They would have to really want to understand me to be able to understand my intention, and in fact that is itself something I am trying to address-- the fear of getting to understand disabled (regardless of the disability) but only seeing the disability and not the person OR refusing to acknowledge either cause you don't know how to see the disability with any comprehension so it clouds your vision of the person you used to see pretty clearly.

Suddenly your view is obstructed by your own fear and lack of understanding.

That is what I think happens

when one hears things like




or even for goodness sake POTS

let me thow that in there





Doesn't matter there are so many sucessful professionals, heck Presidents with such challenges.

So I think the irony is that I feel like there is this integrity tax one pays.

And I felt it ironic that when raising microagression toward disabled in my workplace, the result was:


of a negative review Based on one conversation I had, I was deemed to be underperforming in communication
and then the behavior section
things like teamwork,
working with others,

were all rated LOW.


It actually ventures more on the line of outright AGRESSIVE response this time. Not EVEN micro!


One telling moment also was when it was said to me "Why did you say someone told you not to talk about your disability? That never happened , you shouldn't go around saying that."

What is interesting is the mentor who said that to me could ONLY have known of a comment I WROTE in a survey. A so called survey that is "anonymous" And the mentor is the one who DID say that to me, not in so many words-- NO the exact words were "Your communication has been better, you haven't mentioned that condition..whatever it is, lately"

but it made me think that the fact I raised issues of disability sensitivity just a few months prior to that could have been part of the communication coaching.

NOW TO BE FAIR we all likely met that person who uses some disability as an excuse, or raises their disability like an armor or defense at every turn. I am not that person. I don't.
I just raise the microinequities and microagressions at every turn! HA HA That is likely WORSE YEAH I guess I have been that person.

But the thing is, once I had that meeting and was RESPECTFULLY LISTENED TO I don't feel the need to do that anymore. I now just want to continue the conversation with the folks at work genuinely interested in successfully retaining talent of those with disabilities.

Why did I feel better?
Because I WAS HEARD.

YES The exec was respectful!
I don't care if he complained later.. .I felt HEARD

I felt like he TRIED to understand.

Maybe he didn't

But he took the time. And he Cared enough to mention it to another.

He can SAY I was ineffective,

but if I sparked conversations that flowed down BACK to me....

well there was some talking.

And guaranteed it COULD NOT be completely void of the topics I raised. That is really just impossible!

So the mentor of me said I should not have made a was the same comment I referred to when talking to the executive. I started out the covo telling him that his stance of always trying to find out who says what and WHY so it can be addressed really had chilling factor of participation. People don't want to speak up.

He heard me as the NEXT survey he changed the push for it to being mandatory and I swear participation was up.

So that make me encouraged he may have heard the substance of my other comments as well.


Message given and message clearly received, which is perhaps why there was some sensitivity on the part of my mentor. (Mentor is a great person and doing best. Just one small moment and I understand motivated our of being on my side and worried about OTHERS judging me! I raised the issue not about HER but about the CULTURE of our work that she would even worry about that issue! I tried to explain that these ARE Real issues of real moments that no I did not "make up" and while none are individually pervasive, they are all small and at times repetitive, persistent moments and in the aggregate become pervasive. I said - envision this- It's each little pebble thrown, and if you keep track you see a jar full.

She got it then, and said that was very clear and had I presented the ideas like that it would have been better. She advised NEXT time I want to discuss something with an exec WORK with her to prepare.

I did not do so, simply because I was not going to seek permission. Sometimes you need to just take a risk and seek forgiveness later in order to get something done without possibility of it being shut down.

Overall, what do I think of my conversation with the exec? Sure it was rambling all over the place, and casual... (Maybe? I am a damn good extemporaneous speaker and know it. I DID have examples of microagressions, I DID NOT name names as it is not about the people or the individual moments of each microagression but the AGGREGATE climate of the company and the respect and how it changes when one names a disability. I spoke of how I raised a concern about the regulatory language changing (Dodd Frank Office of Women and Minority ) to remove the word disabled which had been there and that no one responded to my inquiries to have a conversation about this.
The guy i raised the question to ignored me when he saw me at an event at which I was presenting at a table and he went to the other tables but skipped mine. It just seemed overt ...

I KNOW this exec got my point.

So overall, how do I think my meeting went? Well Done! The issue WAS raised and it IS on the minds of some leadership moreso than before.

And as for me- since i was HEARD, when at work it is OFF my mind finally!!


Truly a relief to have raised the conversation. It helps me focus at work as being upset by something like that can actually be VERY distracting for me.

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