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Deal with Workplace Discrimination

Deal with Workplace Discrimination

By Lauren Bayne Anderson

April 08, 2011

Broaden to Universal Human Behavior & Make it Individual


Broaden to Universal Human Behavior

Sometimes people attribute a common human behavior to only one group, and then they stereotype the whole group, as if everyone in the group is identical, the EEOC notes.

In this situation, you can broaden the description to humankind in general. That helps break through the stereotyping.

Example: “I don’t think it’s a gay thing. I mean I think that applies to everyone,” or “I’m not so sure that’s a guy thing. I think that applies to both men and women.”

This technique is powerful because it allows you to show that a particular behavior or trait is not attributed only to the stereotyped group, but may be a universal human behavior.

Break through stereotypes by showing how the so-called trait of the stereotyped group really applies to many different people, the EEOC says. Or you can use an opposite technique to break through the stereotypes: instead of broadening to human nature, you can narrow the focus down to one individual.

Make It Individual

Often, people are clumped together in a stereotype. This approach — Make It Individual — breaks through that clumping, because the characteristic may be true of a few individuals, but definitely not true of everyone in a group.

Some examples:

  • “You mean all managers? Or are you speaking of someone in particular?”
  • “Who are you referring to when you say that?”
  • “Those people don’t even try to speak English.” “You sound frustrated. What happened? Was there someone you couldn’t understand?” ?”


Say “Ouch!” And Next Steps →