The Impact of Microaggressions

By: Tony

It’s just a fact of life that you are going to come into contact with people who are different than you. Whether it be at school or in the workplace, you will inevitably end up talking to someone whose background isn’t the same as yours. Naturally, you will want to get to know each other, which is great. However, you may run the risk of committing a microaggression.

The impact of microaggressions

What is a Microaggression?
A microaggression can be described as covert or unintentional discrimination. They are words and actions that marginalize certain groups of people, even if it is unintentional. The main issue with microaggressions is that even though they may be minor offenses, they can add up quickly and seriously damage one’s self-image and make them feel as though they do not belong. Often, microaggressions manifest themselves in seemingly innocent ways whose impacts are not apparent unless their underlying implications are thought about.

Examples of Microaggressions and Implications

  • “Where are you from?” “The Twin Cities” “No, where are you REALLY from?”
    • The implication is that the second person is being identified as a foreigner and not as the group they choose to be identified with. If you are wondering about someone’s ethnic or racial identity, there are better ways of going about that.
  • “Can I touch your hair?”
    • The implication is that the body of the person who’s being asked is exotic and a target of curiosity, which is degrading. I’m sure the awkwardness of the situation outweighs the satisfaction of your curiosity.
  • “Oh, you’re Latino?! Do you know (random person)?!”
    • Not all (Latinx/Black/Asian/Native American/Queer/Muslim/etc.) people know each other. Assuming that they do gives the implication that their group is small and lacks diversity.
  • (When speaking to a person of color) “Say something in (foreign language)”
    • This implies that all people of color know a second language, which is not true. Worse, it implies that POCs are trained animals that will respond to your whims.
  • (When speaking to a POC) “You are so articulate”.
    • This implies that POCs are uneducated and unable to make intelligent conversation.
  • Blatantly using the wrong pronoun
    • Yes, mistakes happen, but if you know someone’s preferred pronouns, please use them. Mis-pronouning someone implies that you do not accept them for who they are, or at best, you do not care to listen to them.
  • Catcalling
    • The implication is that you see women as sex objects that only exist more male enjoyment.
  • “That’s so gay!”
    • The implication is that being gay is a negative characteristic.

How to Avoid Microaggressions
In my opinion, the keys to avoiding microaggressions are recognition and reflection. You must recognize when your words or actions, intentional or not, have a negative effect on others. You must also reflect on how you can improve your behavior and become more inclusive. As a general rule, if you are curious about a certain aspect of someone’s life, such as their racial identity or any conditions they may have, get to know them. If they wish to tell you about themselves, they can do so on their own terms. It may also be helpful to ask yourself why you want to know about that aspect. Is it to get to know the person better? Or, is it based on sheer curiosity?

Ultimately, modifying behavior is a personal act that you must figure out yourself, but I think self-awareness is a good starting point. With this information, you can do your part to make your classroom or workspace more inclusive and welcoming to all people.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Tony’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Michal Grosicki

Self-Care Follow-up

By: Alissa (Disability Specialist & Guest Blogger)

Editor’s Note: Today’s post continues the collaboration we are doing with the Disability Resources office on the UMD Campus.

Adding on to our last post on self-care, I would like to share this list (source) I stumbled upon called 10 self-care ideas to inspire your process:

Pause and listen. Set a timer if you need to, but pause every hour or so and listen to your mental body, physical body, and emotional body. At a minimum, pause and listen once a day. I consider the 3 level check in step number one in our self-care practice.

How can we know what we need if we aren’t cultivating a relationship with our mental, emotional, and physical bodies? They each have different needs and it’s vital that we know what they each need for daily nourishment. Listen up! Need a reminder about the 3 level check-in?

Self-Care Journal. Keep a “self-care journal” and record the steps you are taking each day to care for yourself. Record your 3 level check-ins in your journal and any steps you’ve taken each day to care for yourself. This can include movement, creativity, food choices, rest and meditation, using healthy boundaries, breath awareness, and your 3 level check-ins, plus anything else that you are using to intentionally and radically care for yourself. This journal can be that thread throughout your self-care practice of what’s working and not working for you.

What do you do a lot of? What are you neglecting? Here are some questions to consider:

How have I supported and cared for myself today? What actions expressed my commitment to self-care today? What steps am I committed to for my own well being this week? What boundaries are nourishing me or where might I need to re-commit to them? Where might I need to make some adjustments in my self-care practices? What am I learning?

Ten self-care ideas for your mental, physical, and emotional health

Nourish From the Inside Out. Eat simply, eat at regular mealtimes, and eat slowly in a quiet setting if possible. Nourish yourself from the inside out with delicious and wholesome meals.

Get Embodied. Move your body and get embodied. Whether it’s walking, running, a ride on your bike, or a stroll through the woods. Move your body. Dance, stretch and do yoga. Move around and stay energized

Beyond the Body. Caring for your physical body in terms of self-care is essential. Just remember that self-care goes beyond the physical body and also must include the emotional body and mental body as well. Are you tending to your emotional body needs and your mental body needs in your self-care regimen? Are you addressing healthy boundaries in your self-care practices? Have you been re-evaluating your mental body messages? Are you working directly with the emotional body and the felt senses? Make sure your approach to self-care is well rounded.

You may need help with these pieces so check in with a coach, therapist or counselor if you need extra support.

Healthy Boundaries. Pay close attention to your boundaries. Listen to how you feel when you are with others. What sensations arrive physically, mentally, and emotionally? What feelings and thoughts arrive? Be aware of how your relationships affect you. Do they nourish? Overstimulate? Exhaust or support you? What relationships are worthy of your time and energy- which ones should be restructured or let go?

Healthy boundaries are a basic step in getting your needs met and getting the nourishment you need in your life. Use them as a vital self-care tool.

Ask for Support and Express Your Needs. Are you piling your plate too high? Are you feeling burdened and heavy with responsibilities and general overwhelm? Remember to seek support, guidance, and ask for assistance.

Don’t self-isolate and don’t keep your needs to yourself. Who and what are the trustworthy support systems in your life? Call upon them, invite them in, anchor with them. Seek the abundance of support available to you and your life, but don’t go at things alone and martyr yourself. If you don’t feel like you have the support that you need, it may be time to call in a new team of resources. Find a trustworthy therapist, coach, counselor or mentor to get the process started. Seek answers and solutions.

Get Inspired and Go for the Joy! Do something new that inspires you. Try a new class, try a new cafe or recipe, or simply take a different hiking trail today. Be curious and explore while getting out of old ruts and patterns that might be less than fulfilling.

Remember that this can be simple and doesn’t have to be a move to a new state or an exotic vacation in paradise! Do activities that bring you joy, recharge your batteries and inspire you – but do it daily if possible. Walk in the woods, write poetry, dance, draw, journal, play with your animal companions, cook nourishing foods, do yoga.

Reflect and give gratitude. Openly express your gratitude to yourself and others. This can be an essential ritual for experiencing more nourishment in your life. What are you grateful for about yourself? What qualities are you proud of in yourself and in your life? What can you applaud yourself for accomplishing each day that serves your well being?

Celebrate yourself! And celebrate others! Expressing truthful gratitude to others can be a balm for their hearts as well as your own. Speak honestly and kindly to others and remind them why they are so special. I consider this an essential ingredient for life and love.

Work it like a job! Consider self-care to be your part-time job—or full-time job! Nourish yourself daily and always be moving towards greater nourishment for yourself and your life. Take baby steps or leaps, but remember that what you do today will provide sustainable nourishment and well being for your future days. Your steps really add up!

Above all, do what you love, and love what you do, your life depends on it!

As you continue your self-care journey, remember to pause periodically and ask yourself how your self-care practices are working for you and if there are any holes in how you are caring for yourself. Make the necessary adjustments along the way and remember this is a process. Enjoy!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read other posts Alissa has written

Photo Source: Unsplash | Billy Williams

How to Say NO.

By: Tori

I tend to say yes to a lot of things.

“Tori will you…?”
“Tori can you….?”
“Tori want to come…?”

And even when I know I should be saying no, I find myself saying yes. This happens every day, at school, at work, and even at home.

Throughout these past 3 years of independence and self-reliance, I’ve learned I don’t know my “limits” until it’s too late to say “no” and then I’m overwhelmed with the list of things I said “yes” to.

With the ‘end of semester stress’ suffocating many of us, I figured it would be useful to learn how to say no and understand the reasons behind why it is SO hard to do this sometimes.

Below are helpful tools you can use to say no.

Acknowledge that you can’t do everything.

  • This is a hard statement to take in, but it is true. You cannot do everything, I cannot do everything, No one can do everything. This means that sometimes you HAVE to say no. Understanding the limits of what you can and cannot do is important.
  • It is even more important to know when to say no because you don’t have time to always say yes. Time management is everything.

Understand you aren’t being selfish

  • Know you are not being selfish when you say no, you are allowed to say no to certain requests and situations if it is better for you.

Know you can’t please everyone

  • We are people pleasers at our core; we desire for everyone we meet to like us, but this is unrealistic.
  • We cannot do things because we want others to like us, or because we want the reputation of “being the best” coworker, student, daughter/son/child, or friend.
  • Saying yes just to gain recognition by others is putting value in something that will not satisfy and your work will not live up to your expectations.

Be direct; Say “No, I can’t” or “No, I don’t want to”

  • Remember that it is better to say no now than be resentful later.
  • Don’t say “I’ll think about it” if you don’t want to do it. This will just prolong the situation and make you feel even more stressed.

Give a brief explanation
You don’t have to lie or make up excuses to say no, just simply be honest. If you have a reason for not wanting or being able to do something, give them a brief explanation. Below are a few examples:

  • “I don’t think I can take on another project, as I am already working on…..”
  • “I can’t go out to eat because I need to save money.”
  • “I can’t go to the party because I need a night to relax by myself.”

Suggest alternatives
When it comes to wanting to say yes, but not being able to, suggest an alternative plan or action. This may look something like:

  • “I can’t go to the party because I need a night to relax. If you want, you can come watch movies with me.”
  • I don’t think I can take another project, but maybe Sarah would be good for this one, she has a lot of interest in this area.”

I hope this helps you reflect and have confidence in saying no the next time you feel yes at the tip of your tongue. As life gets busier, it is necessary to know your own limits!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Tori’s other posts

Importance of Attending Conferences

By: Lexi

There are so many ways to learn and advance your skills, especially with all the online tools these days. You can read a blog post, take an online course, listen to a podcast, watch a webinar or YouTube videos, etc. So why would you want to attend a conference? Do not worry, this is exactly what I thought until I attended one.

In the fall of 2016, I attended the 26th annual MN GIS/LIS Consortium that was held in Duluth, MN (GIS = Geographic Information Science; LIS = Land Information System). It was a 3-day event with a variety of workshops, small and large group presentations, and an exhibitors hall. I was required to attend because of my job, and I was excited to attend my first conference, but I will admit that I was a little hesitant. To be honest, my mindset before the conference was pretty much that I have to wake up early to waste 3 days of my time sitting and listening to boring presentations. But it turned out to be an eye-opening event about all the different areas and companies within my area of study. Now, I am going to take advantage of all of the conferences I can and here’s why!

MN GIS Logo

At conferences, you get a chance to meet and network with professionals and peers you would never have if you did not attend! This could open up so many doors for you as a professional and a student. Face-to-face conversations are great for collaborating ideas or talking about possible jobs or internships. Do not be afraid to introduce yourself to someone, you are both at the same conference so you already have something in common.

Personally, at the MN GIS/LIS Consortium, I was so shy. This was my first conference, I was new to the atmosphere, and I did not know what I was doing. The main push for me to become comfortable introducing myself to others stemmed from having my supervisors, professors, and upper classmates introduce me to their colleagues or acquaintances. Having someone else first introduce you is a great way to meet someone because you then have a mutual acquaintance in common and it might be less uncomfortable than for you to go up to them yourself. So take advantage of this opportunity. It can also help you break out of your comfort zone! This was my favorite part of the conference, especially because I was involved in a mentor program which paired me with a professional who I was able to sit down with, chat, and ask questions.

IMG_0555

Myself and two other UMD students who are also GIS majors or minors at the conference.

Conferences open up opportunities, like I mentioned above briefly. These could be educational or career opportunities. First of all, you get the chance to learn in a new environment that is not the traditional classroom and everyone could use a break from the classroom every once in awhile. You will also take away new ideas and approaches that will help you succeed and be more efficient. You will even probably discover new tools or technology to help you in your studies.

Personally, I learned about so many new GIS tools, research studies, design approaches, and GIS databases at the conference I attended. These opened up many new ways for me to do my studies and research in class. The experience of learning these new ideas and tools will also help me in the future career. This conference also had a student research scholarship competition and a poster competition. I personally did not compete in either of these, but I know some students who did and it is a great way to show off your research and hard work! So attend these workshops or presentations and pick one that you have maybe never heard of before. When else will you get the chance? The opportunities at conferences are endless and hopefully, it will inspire you as well.

IMG_0548

The “Mobile Imagery – Capture the World Around You with Mobile Imaging” lightning round presentation I attended.

Of Possible Interest:

Read Lexi’s other posts

10 Lessons We Learned from The Office

By: Willow

I love The Office. I think it’s hilarious and I have watched it a million times. I think The Office can teach us a lot about how to behave, or not behave in an office setting. The following blog post is to show us the lessons we can learn our favorite characters.

Don’t be an idiot.
office-1

Know how to use technology.powerpoint

Have people you look up to professionally, and try to be more like them.
office-3

Have big dreams.
office-4

Never stop trying.
office-5

Don’t start a fire in your office. We learned this one two different episodes.
office-6

office-6-1

Office Safety is important. Don’t do this:

Know that you’re not perfect. Don’t be full of yourself.
office-8

Always be positive and look ahead to the exciting things in coming up in your life.
office-9

Remember that you spend a lot of time at your office so no matter what happens, make the best of it.
office-10

Read Willow’s other posts

The Right Time To Be a Quitter- How to Act After You Quit

By: Willow

Now you’ve quit your job, take a deep breath. You were professional, you were to the point, you rocked it. So what do you do now?

to-be-a-quitter

People will ask you why you quit your job, and you have a few options of how to respond:

You can lie.
I don’t recommend this one, at all. Lies always come back to bite you in bum.

You can tell the entire truth.
I don’t recommend this one either, most of the time. Just like imagining your desk flipping quitting scenario, telling a couple trusted friends or family members is therapeutic. Tell your mom, bff, significant other, or another trusted member of your inner circle. If you’re struggling to find someone to talk to make an appointment with a counselor at health services, honestly, even just one session could really help. Get out all the dirt, get out all your anger to someone you can trust, whoever that is. Why shouldn’t you tell the whole truth the whole time? There are a couple reasons: It makes you feel angry. Whenever I think about quitting my job I get upset, I don’t like being upset, it’s not fun for me, it won’t be fun for you. Another reason, you don’t want to be the person known for hating on their old boss. You might think it doesn’t matter, you’re only telling the truth, who cares? Things get around, I’m sure you know that. You never know who might be around to remember you as the jerk who couldn’t shut up about their old boss.

You can the short version of the truth.
I am not condoning lying in this post. I would like to repeat that, I am not telling you to lie. You can say something like, “It wasn’t a good fit.” Or, “It was time for a change.” If those things are true, they are perfectly valid answers. Remember, you don’t owe a detailed explanation to anyone. Some people may try to pry a drama filled story out of you, don’t let them. You’re also allowed to tell anyone who asks that you don’t want to talk about it, that is fine too. The big thing here is that even when you’re telling the truth it could still come off as bashing your boss, which is a huge no-no in the professional world. It’s another one of those things that will come back and bite you in the bum.

Remember that you had your reasons for quitting, and you made the right choice. Keep your head up, and take the high road. I believe in you.

Read the rest of the series: 

Read Willow’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Geran de Klerk

The Right Time to be a Quitter – How to Quit

By: Willow

A couple of weeks ago, part one of my three-part blog post on how to quit your job was posted, welcome to part two, How to Quit. Last time I talked about things to look for to help you figure out when it might be the time to quit your job. This post, is all about how to quit, as in how to have the meeting where you tell your boss you no longer want to work there.

to-be-a-quitter

I’m sure you know that the big elaborate quitting scenes in movies are not the right way to quit your job, even if they are exciting to watch. Even though quitting that way could be detrimental to your career, it’s a good way to get your anger out, let yourself think about how you would elaborately quit your job. Practice it in the mirror or go over it in your head as much as you need to.  Act it out over and over, get all of your frustrations out, yell it into your pillow, whatever. Get your anger out at home. This is so important because you don’t want to be angry in your meeting. Maybe you’re not angry and can keep your cool, maybe you need to keep imagining you’re flipping the desk quitting scenario a few more times before you go talk to your boss. Once you have done that, you can start to plan your actual process of quitting.

When you are ready, set up a meeting time with your boss. You don’t want to go in randomly, you want to be able to mentally prepare, and you also don’t want to totally blindside your boss.

Know exactly what you are going to say. This is a big one. Don’t go in and just say “I quit see ya never.” Be prepared to have a conversation with your boss, state your reason, and say you’re resigning. Don’t say the word quitting, say either leaving or resigning, these words are less aggressive and will (hopefully) prevent your boss from getting defensive. Be prepared for some questions they may ask you, and practice answers beforehand.

You don’t owe your boss anything but two weeks notice. It is possible that your boss will try to make you feel bad, or not be satisfied with your reason for leaving. That’s not your problem, you don’t owe your boss anything, you don’t need to apologize. People leave workplaces, it’s a part of life don’t let someone guilt you into doing something that isn’t the best for you.

Don’t engage in petty behavior. We all live in the real world and know that sometimes adults, including bosses, don’t act like adults. Don’t allow yourself to get into an argument, stick to your story. If your boss says something rude and petty that makes you want to yell back, just say something like, “I am leaving because I feel this job is not a good fit for me,” or something along those lines. Don’t cave, when it doubt, repeat what you said the moment you started talking.

Eventually, it’s ok to just leave. If your boss will not stop badgering you, trying to make you feel bad, trying to make you stay, whatever, it is perfectly alright to just say, “thank you for your time, my last day will be next Friday.” You don’t have to spend an hour being yelled it.

As always, the staff at the Career & Internship Services office can help you with your transition, they can help go over what questions your employer might ask you, help you practice what you want to say, and help you get out all things you wish you could say without ruining your career.

Next time, we will cover how to act after you quit. Get excited!

Read Willow’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Geran de Klerk