Microaggressions


It’s not nothing: innovative, drama-based training to switch people onto the impact of microaggressions and everyday incivilities.

“It's brilliant, the best training I've attended... you'll think and feel differently afterwards.”

Companies worldwide have made significant strides towards developing inclusive organisational cultures with diverse workforces. Yet, even as they make progress, their good work is frequently undermined by the everyday unthinking things employees say and do to one another.

From unprofessional treatment because of gender or race, to throwaway remarks about grey hair or home décor on Zoom calls, to being given a nickname without permission, many employees are on the receiving end of microaggressions and other incivilities at work. No matter how harmless perpetrators may think these are, the evidence is they can create a hostile environment, constitute discrimination or harassment, and lead to problems with mental health and wellbeing. Ignoring micro level behaviours stores up macro level problems down the line.

Building on the success of our popular bullying and harassment training programme, this complementary programme can help companies minimise the harm caused by microaggressions and other incivilities. Realistic, relatable drama-based content is used to raise awareness, increase knowledge, and open learners up to positive behaviour change. Participants come away with a greater understanding of the experiences of marginalised groups and the emotional and psychological impact of language, verbal and non-verbal, and the messages being transmitted. We also create a safe space in which learners can share experiences and reflect on their own past behaviours before working together to plan what they will do differently on return to the workplace. All of this comes with an accessible underpinning of key theoretical concepts, such as fragility and bias, and practical tools and techniques to do things like show empathy and constructively challenge perpetrators.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of participation, learners will:

  • Understand what constitutes a microaggression or everyday act of incivility;
  • Appreciate the short and long-term negative impact of microaggressions and incivilities;
  • Reflect on their own personal microaggressions and unthinking everyday behaviours with a downside;
  • Be introduced to the concept of ‘fragility’ and its relevance to microaggressions and incivility;
  • Explore and establish personal and professional boundaries;
  • Practice challenging people perpetrating microaggressions and low-level incivilities in a safe and supportive environment; and
  • Identify practical actions to create a healthier, more inclusive working environment.

The Programme

Our experiential and interactive training programme includes dramatised content (live and filmed) delivered by professional actors, alongside electronic voting, group exercises, and skilful facilitation. We offer either a half-day face to face workshop (F2F) for up to 20 learners, or a circa two-hour livestream workshop (LS) for up to 16 learners.

The programme consists of the following modules.

Module 1: welcome and explanation of purpose; getting to know each other, outlining aims and objectives, and establishing norms for the workshop.
Module 2: live scenario; a live action dramatisation depicts some common microaggressions employees face in their working lives. These can be tailored to focus on the experience of specific protected characteristics or marginalised groups as required by customers. Using this scenario as a platform, learners are encouraged to have open and productive conversations about discrimination, the nature of diversity, and the potential negative impact of language and behaviours.
Module 3: microaggressions – it’s not nothing; using the characters from the previous scenario, we learn about the nature of microaggressions and how they differ from other incivilities. What are they, why do they happen, and what impact can they have on our wellbeing? Group discussions allow learners to explore microaggressions that they might have personally exhibited. We also introduce the key concept of ‘fragility’ – the feeling of uncertainty and anxiety when we are faced with difference in others – and reflect on why it makes facing our own behaviours so much harder.
Module 4: responsibility in a shared workplace; members of marginalised groups in companies increasingly describe how fed up and emotionally drained they are from having to be the ones who point out microaggressions to their colleagues. Using the experience of our fictional characters, learners explore collective responsibility for the workplace and everyday behaviour within it.
Module 5: challenging microaggressions and incivilities; a live-action scenario brings to life the subtleties of low-level bullying. Delegates witness a scenario in which incorrect assumption, stereotype and inappropriate banter have a negative impact on a team member. Once again, this can be tailored to focus on the experiences of specific protected characteristics or marginalised groups. Using forum theatre, delegates have the opportunity to challenge this behaviour and create a new and positive outcome for all involved.
Module 6: a call to action; emphasising that remaining silent to microaggressions and other incivilities only allows them to flourish in the long term, learners are encouraged to move away from the session with the desire to stop these behaviours in their tracks.
Module 7: summary, action planning and evaluation; learners get the chance to discuss and recap their learning. Pledges are used to identify one or more practical actions they will take back in the workplace. The session closes with a series of electronic polls to evaluate whether the training met its objectives.

Interested?

If you are interested in running this training programme in your organisation, or if you simply want to ask a question about it, hit the button to contact us or call +44 (0)1484 310234.

Contact Us

Our Clients Include

National Grid
NHS

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