Whether they're intentional or not, microaggressions are harmful and can hurt us and our colleagues. Creating an inclusive, supportive work environment means calling out these microaggressions when we hear them and making sure they don't happen again.
The first step is acknowledging the comment. Sometimes, the person who said it won't even know they've done something wrong. We must make them aware of what they've said.
Second, disarm the microaggression by moving the conversation in a different direction: most importantly, away from more problematic discussions. Don't completely change the subject, but get the conversation going in a more positive, inclusive direction.
Lastly, work to educate. This can be a part of your new conversation. Or, after you've pointed out the microaggression and disarmed it, you can pull that colleague aside later to talk with them further.
The point is not to shame or guilt our colleagues into silence, but rather to teach them. Education will help create long-term progress, both inside and out of work.
How have you responded to microaggressions at work? What strategies do you find useful and productive?