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Did you know that things you do unconsciously while at work can affect your teamwork and how you get on with others? Believe it or not, 95% of brain activity is unconscious, which means that you need to keep a close eye on your interpersonal skills to ensure that no negative micro behaviours creep in and start to adversely affect your professional performance. 

What Is Negative Micro Behaviour?

The term was coined in the 1970s by psychologist Mary Rowe to describe those almost imperceptible changes to our demeanour when we encounter people. That said, when negative micro behaviours occur in other people, they're usually pretty easy to spot, as they include actions like:

  • Gossiping about work colleagues 
  • Continuous interruption of others
  • Acting arrogant or irritable
  • Reacting with sarcasm
  • Not greeting people
  • Offensive comments

The thing is, these behaviours are often overlooked, as they're not deemed to be anywhere near as problematic as bullying, sexual misconduct or racial discrimination. Nonetheless, as short courses in conflict management illustrate, they can be just as damaging. 

How Do You Address Negative Behaviour At Work Like This?

So, what exactly do you do if you witness negative micro-behaviours (a.k.a. Microaggressions) or have a colleague come to you complaining about them? Well, if it’s a one-off, it’s likely best just to brush it off and put it down to a momentary lapse. However, when the behaviour becomes consistent, that’s a different matter, and it needs to stop for the good of your business. 

You see, eventually, these micro behaviours build up to a point where an employee gets so frustrated and upset by them that their happiness and performance are impacted. 

Stopping Micro Behaviours Involves A 3-Step Approach.

If you want the micro-behaviours you see occurring around you to stop, as a manager, you need to implement a simple three-step approach as laid out below. 

  • Step #1 - Provide Training On Micro Behaviours 

No matter where a person is on their personal development plan, there’s no guarantee that employees are going to know what micro-behaviours are - or even know they exist. As such, providing in-person or online training on the subject can help a lot, particularly as the impact can be better understood. 

During this training, employers should be sure to point out that these behaviours are largely unacceptable. While it’s impossible for people to control themselves all of the time, having this in their minds may make staff think before they speak and act.

  • Step #2 - Create A Framework For Receptiveness

Microaggressions are not conducive to good team collaboration, but the messages they are often attempting to convey are necessary. As such, a work atmosphere and culture need to be created in which employees feel comfortable offering constructive feedback to each other. 

Part of this includes getting an agreement from everyone to accept feedback in good faith when it needs to be said. This does two things; 1) it ensures that conversations remain respectful, and 2) it gives people the confidence to critique each other, knowing everyone’s main goal is overall company success.

  • Step #3 - Have A Clear Escalation Process 

No matter how hard you work to create this new feedback-receptive work culture, there are often one or two employees who aren’t totally on board. This might result in one team member offering feedback and another taking it personally - against the boss’s advice.

On these occasions, it’s essential to act and arrange a meeting with the said employee to reiterate the need to tow the company line. Doing so will demonstrate you’re serious about implementing the change and that non-compliance is not acceptable. 

It’s all about educating your team to understand what’s expected of them and that you have their back when the rules set down aren’t followed. What you’ll end up with is a happier team - which is good for business, as employees are typically more productive when happy

Real for food for thought for business owners, we think you’ll agree. 

Add To Your Professional Skills With OCA Online Training

The obvious impact of micro-behaviours just goes to show how important strong interpersonal skills are in the modern workplace. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to work on your thanks to 

video-based CPD-Endorsed short courses like our Conflict Management course that offer a next-level learning experience to our students.

What do we mean by next level? Take a look at our Student Study Demo and you’ll clearly see why our students view ours as the most convenient, affordable and immersive online education Australia has to offer. To find out more about how every one of our courses come with 1-to-1 mentoring and can be paid for in manageable instalments, visit us today at

Alternatively, to speak to a member of our team about your learning needs, call 1300 611 404 or drop us a line by emailing [email protected]. As soon as we receive your inquiry, we’ll get back to you as quickly as we can.


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