When we think of discrimination, we often think of gender and race. Persons of different colors or minorities and gays and lesbians are discriminated against. But individual discrimination is a bit different and runs just as deep as race and gender discrimination.
Individual discrimination sinks deep into our world in the workforce and the small parts of our lives. Judging others to see who is better, the person who has more education or the younger person or maybe the one who plays tennis better.
Those who feel they are better than another and look down on them for any reason practice individual discrimination against another. Some would say this is a form of judgment, and I agree, but it is also a form of discrimination.
Individual discrimination is one person looking down on another. Today, we will talk about individual discrimination based on what we see with our eyes but not with our hearts. The judgment of someone is strictly based on what you see but not based on what they have been through or what hardships they may have.
Do you discriminate? You may say “no” that you are not prejudiced, but I believe everyone is to an extent.
When was the last time you looked down on someone because of something they said or did? Or maybe you said, “did you know she has been married 4 times?” or “she has 3 kids by 3 different dads.”
Do you see where I am going with this? Everyone has a different set of experiences, and they see others based on their own past. For example, You have a master’s degree in your field of expertise, but someone else has an associate’s degree. So you automatically look down on them for their lack of education.
I could talk all day about the different ways humankind discriminates against one another, but that will not change it. There has to be a way to see what people are doing. There has to be a way to change this, one small step at a time.
I am guilty, and you are guilty. Do we want to stay that way, or do we want to change to accept others for who they are?
I, for one, want to recognize when I am showing individual discrimination against another and change my thought process. How will you and I do this? I have a few suggestions to try out that may help.
Ways To Stand Against Individual Discrimination
- Recognize differences as unique
- Speak out against discrimination when you see it
- Respect everyone
- Stand up for yourself in kindness
Recognize differences as unique
How do you make someone aware of a problem they have? First, you need to see where you are strong and weak. Look at the well-rounded person in you. Once you see yourself for who you are, then you can lead others in awareness.
Steps to take when you see or hear individual discrimination against another person’s lifestyle or choices:
- Identify with their feelings-Let them know you understand how they must feel.
- Humility-put yourself on equal ground with the other person. Don’t speak down to them.
- Be truthful-let them know that you were in a situation like this or you know that person must be suffering. But do it all in love. Don’t put them down because they are showing individual discrimination against another. Don’t do what they are doing.
- Point out their action of individual discrimination-let them know they are putting another below them and ask them to look at the situration as if they were the one being discrimnated against. Ask them to change their way of thinking.
Speak out against discrimination when you see it
When you speak out, don’t react but instead act. Don’t let the injustice someone is showing cause you to react in anger. Prepare for the moment you will need to speak out. You can be direct yet use kindness. Spoken actions don’t just happen at the spur of the moment. We have to plan for them.
If the individual discrimination is against you here is a way to speak out against it. You are in a group, and someone says that people over the age of 60 are dumb. You are 68, and your reaction would be to lash out at how stupid their statement is. Will a retaliation in anger change this situation? Or will it fuel the fire and confirm their statement?
When you have a plan it will take practice to execute it without reacting. How many times have you rethought a situation after it happened and know you could have said something different. When you practice your plan of what you will say, it gives you a better chance to change individual discrimination.
But how do you set a plan and then make it happen? There are different types of discrimination, so one blanket statement is not the answer. Instead, set a plan on how you will deal with the situation based on emotion.
Here are a few ways to check your emotions and make a statement that will promote change in the other person.
- Take a breath and pause before responding
- Confirm the statement by repeating it back-“Did you say” and repeat what they said. Stay calm and be direct.
- After you clarify the statement calmly tell the person “I am very surprised to hear you say (what ever it is they said) example: I am very surprised to hear you feel this way about the older population. Or I am very surprised to hear you say, that abused people are wanting attention.
- After you tell the person how you feel not how they feel you can watch their reaction. If they become defensive then it is time to set boundaries. example: I don’t agree with you and I don’t like it when you make statements of individual discrimination against others. Or, I am not willing to listen to your judgement and discrimination against others.
- If they are receptive to your statement of surprise then you can let them know you would like the conversation to change and not include individual discrimination. Example: I am happy to hear you did not mean that statement and are willing to change your thinking.
These are examples. Don’t put the other person on the defensive but stand your ground and speak out against individual discrimination. Let the person know you are not going to agree with them or participate in their actions.
The person who discriminates is not always the other person. It may be you who makes statements of injustice against another. We all tend to see different behavior as a threat.
If you are the one who is discriminating, it will help to remember that we are not all made alike. Each of us deals with situations differently. Instead of finding the differences, try to find something good in each person you meet. You don’t know what they have gone through, just as they do not know you.
Find the strength it took for that person to keep going. They did not quit. They did not sit down and give up. Show them respect when you speak to them and when you listen. Give them unconditional respect even if you don’t understand their choices and decisions.
Stand up for yourself in kindness
Suppose you are the one who is discriminated against stand your ground. Use the steps above under “speak out ” to let the judgemental person know how you feel when they individually discriminate against you.
Remember that you are standing up for yourself, not trying to change the other person. But your actions will set change in motion either for you, the other person, or those around you.
Set your boundaries and stand by them. Your boundary will let the other person know you will not be around someone who speaks poorly of your decisions. Do not allow that person to make you feel like less of a person. You made your choices based on what you had to do at the time. Your decisions are not up for discussion or scrutiny.
Individual discrimination is judgment against a person. Don’t be that person who discriminates. Follow the steps to point out injustice, speak out against it and be aware of your own weaknesses and strengths. Be the change that you want to see in others. Stand your ground, set your boundaries, and do not tolerate individual discrimination in our world or your life.