MM 2.1 What Are Micromessages?

Topic Progress:

Micromessages are small, subtle messages, sometimes subconscious, that are communicated between people often without saying a word.

4 women working together at a table

Photo Credit: Intel Free Press

Micromessages include looks, gestures, tone of voice, or the framing of feedback.

Micro-inequities are negative micromessages we send other people that cause them to feel devalued, slighted, discouraged, or excluded. Suppose you are sitting in class and notice that no matter how many times you raise your hand to answer the question, the teacher does not call on you. How would that make you feel? Will you continue to raise your hand over time?

Micro-affirmations are positive micromessages that cause people to feel valued, included, or encouraged. Suppose you are trying very hard to understand a difficult math problem. Your teacher comes up to you during the break and says, “I really appreciate how sincerely you are trying to work through this. Have you tried dividing the problem into smaller chunks?” How would that make you feel? Are you more likely to persist and perhaps solve the problem than you were before receiving this comment?

Stop-Think-Write: Examining the Small

Can you think of specific incidents where:

  • You were unintentionally discouraged or hurt by something small someone said or did?
  • You were deeply valued by your colleague or family member in a small yet powerful way?
  • How did you know? What did that person do to communicate your value?

Throughout this module, you will find a number of “Stop-Think-Write” journal prompts such as this one. Please note that the journals are a personal way to reflect on the material contained in this module. They are for you to start a Professional Development Journal on your computer or in a notebook. They are not a part of the online module curriculum and will not be shared.