realsocialskills said:I dunno so much about Ask a Manager, it comes off to me like a lot of the advice is to accept micro-aggressions and boundary-pushing from your higher-ups, because “right or wrong” that’s what corporate culture dictates
Those of us who experience routine social violence can’t afford to become enraged about it every single time. We also can’t afford to fight it every single time.
If you don’t experience social violence, this can be hard to understand. It can be easy to think we’re under-reacting and that we ought to be flying into a rage and reporting it. You might want to get furious on our behalf.
As furious as you think you’d be if that happened to you. The thing is, when it happens to you multiple times every day, you can’t always afford to make a big deal of it. If we did that, we wouldn’t be able to do anything else. It’s important to fight sometimes, but not always. There are other things to be getting on with.
So telling someone “wow, you should report that!” is not necessarily a helpful response.
Similarly, it also isn’t helpful to try to calm someone down or come up with lots of ways to interpret what happened as just an innocent misunderstanding.
Misunderstandings aren’t so benign when they happen to you several times a day and prevent you from doing what you need to do. Particularly when people become hostile when you tell them that they’re creating a problem, no matter how polite you are about it. Sometimes things really are that bad, and sometimes you’re not in a position to fix them.
Sometimes we don’t need help adjusting our perspective, or help filing a complaint. Sometimes what we need is to know that you are willing to listen to something that happened to us, and that you will believe us and understand.
Sometimes, you can’t make it better in that moment. Sometimes, we can’t make it better, and all we can do is survive it. We can’t fight every battle. And sometimes, the battles we don’t fight can take as heavy a toll on us as the battles we do fight. It is not easy to let things go when they are unjust and in which we’d really like to fix things. But, the only thing to do is see it as unjust *and* go on without fighting a battle then and there.
Just as no one should ever have to fight these battles alone, no one should have to be alone when they decide to sit out a particular battle. We need support every time this kind of thing happens, not only in instances in which we’re directly fighting.
If you want to be a good ally, don’t pressure people to fight every battle. Instead, stand with them consistently, when they chose to fight, and when they regard discretion as the better part of valor. Presume that they are capable of making those calls, listen respectfully, and offer support that is appropriate to the situation and consistent with the choice they are making about it.
Sometimes, in a situation, all you can do is listen, understand, and be someone who understands that they are being treated unjustly and that it isn’t their fault. It hurts not to be able to do more, but it’s important not to let that pain get in the way of offering the support, respect, and listening that can help some in that situation.
You can’t always fix things, either by fighting or by explaining things away. Sometimes there is no ready solution. But, you *can* always be a respectful ally.
- Someone rides a wheelchair or mobility scooter into a room that has many chairs in it
- They want to sit on one of those chairs.
- Several people, trying to be helpful, dart in to remove the very chair they wanted to sit on
This is very annoying.
- Especially when it happens several times a week
- Especially when the people who dart in to remove the chairs are very proud of themselves for Helping The Disabled
- Even more so if they don’t understand “actually, I want to sit in that chair”, and keep removing it anyway
- Even more so if the person has to physically grab the chair they want to sit on to prevent it from being removed
- (And sometimes people react badly to being corrected and become aggressive or condescending)
Do not do this annoying thing.
- Instead, find out what the person you want to be helpful to actually wants
- People who use mobility equipment are not actually glued to it
- And different people have different preferences about where they want to sit
- You can’t know without asking them
- (You can’t read their mind, Some people seem to think that mobility equipment transmits a telepathic call for help regardless of the person’s actual apparent interest in help. Those people are wrong. You have to actually ask)
- You can’t know where someone wants to sit unless you ask, so ask
- One way you can ask is “Would you like me to move anything?”
If you forget to ask, and make the wrong assumption:
- Recognize that you have been rude
- And apologize, and say “Oh, excuse me” or “Sorry. I’ll put it back.”
- This is the same kind of rude as, say, accidentally cutting in line
- Or being careless and bumping into someone
- This is not a big-deal apology, it’s basically just acknowledging that you made a rude mistake
- People make and acknowledge rude mistakes all the time with nondisabled folks
- The same people who say “excuse me” when they bump into a nondisabled person, are often completely silent when they do something rude related to someone’s disability
- Being on the receiving end of a lot of unacknowledged rudeness is degrading and draining. Particularly when you see that the same people who are rude to you without apologizing say “sorry” and “excuse me” to people without disabilities they interact with
- Do not be part of this problem
- When you are inadvertently rude to someone who has a disability, it’s important to acknowledge and apologize for it in the same way you would for any other inadvertent interpersonal rudeness
@the-healing-butterfly said: I sometimes have pronunciation issues (being raised in a white-washed area), so I ask people to repeat their names “just so I know I’m saying it right” or I ask for it again and tell them I really want to make sure I’m not saying it wron@lowoncliches said: I’d just matter-of-factly tell them what’s the case “Hello, I don’t want to be rude, but I have a *insert fact* that causes me to have *insert consequences*, so I may need you to *do specific thing, like writing it down, repeating it several times*.
Anonymous asked realsocialskills:
I have a speech impediment, and people correct me in a rather snappish way sometimes and also tease me over it. but I’m more concerned about how to tell PoC who experience microaggressions about their names that I simply don’t know how? I sometimes need to someone to slowly pronounce a word several times before I can say it but I don’t know how to tell people this without annoying/offending them or making them think I’m mocking them. I pass as someone without an impediment too, so…
That’s a really good question. Unfortunately, I don’t know any good answers to it.
I wish I did, because I have similar problems (both with remembering/pronouncing names, and things like eye contact).
Do any of y'all have suggestions?
Here are some examples:
As a follow-up to the last post, here are some personal questions that are particularly likely to be unwelcome and experienced as microaggressions:
- Asking someone why they have a particular religious affiliation (especially if it is a minority religion).
- Asking someone medical questions about their body.
- Asking someone why they have children, don’t have children, or have so many children (or whether their children were adopted/conceived naturally/conceived through IVF).
- Asking someone about their accent or national origins
- Asking someone questions about their hair (*especially* if you are white and they not)
- Asking someone about their eating habits
- Asking someone whether they’re gay
- Asking someone whether they’re trans, or asking personal questions about transition
- Asking someone how much money they make
- Asking someone to speak for their group without having been invited to do so (Eg: “So, what DOES the gay community think about lesbians marrying gay men?)
- Asking someone if they’ve lost weight.
If someone reacts to something you do in a way you consider unreasonable and disproportionate, consider whether it might be a microagression that person experiences all the time in invasive ways. That’s not always or (for sufficiently atypical people) usually the case, but it’s the case often enough that it’s something it’s important to consider.
Here are some indications that someone’s offense at something you did might be reasonable. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a few things I have some idea how to explain:
1) Did someone react badly to a compliment? If so, it’s likely that there is a reason for this related to microagressions. This goes *double* if the compliment was related to someone’s physical appearance. (Eg: complimenting someone on weight loss, telling someone their eyes have exotic beauty, telling someone their accent is adorable)
2) Did you say something suggesting that someone is laudably atypical of their group? For instance: “You’re autistic?! You must be so high functioning!” or “You’re so good at that, it’s hard to believe you’re a woman”, or “I was surprised at how good your English is!”
3) Were you attempting to make a joke? Is it possible that it had boundary-violating content?
In a professional context, and in many social contexts, it is considered inappropriate to make sexual jokes. Violating that rule is very often a prelude to violating other sexual boundaries, and it will be read as a sexual threat even if you have no intention of breaking other sexual rules. So if you noticed a hilarious sex joke that could be made about the circuits you’re designing, it’s probably best not to make it, and if you do and someone gets offended, it’s probably your fault (even if you meant it totally innocently).
Jokes about minority groups you are not part of are usually boundary-violating in a similar way. For instance, if you’re a man, it’s problematic to tell a joke about irrational female group behavior to a woman, because you’re in effect asking her to identify with male contempt for women. This is the case even if you heard the joke from a member of the group you’re not part of. Making fun of your own group or its situation is different from participating in mockery by outsiders.
Also, some images are loaded for members of other groups in ways that you might not know about, and they matter whether or not you intended to reference them. For instance, if you notice that it happens to be the case that a particular world figure’s name sounds like “Monkey Potato” in one of the languages you speak, pointing this out has racist connotations even if that has nothing to do with what you’re amused by.
If someone seems inexplicably offended by a joke you made, think it over and see if you used any images that might have similar problems. (For instance, if you suspect that you inadvertently used a racist symbol try googling the word you used and ‘racist’).
3) Did you ask a personal question? Is it possible that doing so violating a boundary?
When you’re asking personal questions, it’s important to make sure it’s ok to do so first. Saying something like “Can I ask you a personal question?” can be helpful, but it’s not really sufficient. If your expressive language is such that it’s possible for you to do so, try to structure your questions in a way that makes it clear that you aren’t demanding an answer. For instance “I’d like to ask you a question about your hat. Would that be ok, or would you rather not talk about it?”, then *pause* and wait for a reply before you make any move to ask the question. And then if they’ve said it’s ok, ask the question in a way that doesn’t force an answer. Having received permission to *ask* a personal question does *not* entitle you to an answer.
Also, do not use people as google. Don’t ask about something easily googleable unless you’re primarily trying to initiate a conversation with that person *and* have reason to expect they’d welcome it (for instance, if you are at a party, it’s probably ok to ask someone what their shirt means. It is not ok to stop someone in the street to ask why they are wearing a headscarf).
And, if in doubt, don’t ask.
And some things you should err *especially* heavily on the side of not asking about, because they are things that people get invasively questioned about and asked to justify multiple times a day. If you want to ask about something that might be stigmatized, don’t ask unless you have a *specific* reason to think that the question would be welcome.