Most LGBTQI people in the United Kingdom will experience some sort of negativity about their sexuality or gender identity at some point during their life. Even if they do not experience threats or violence, being around people who have an underlying negativity about their sexuality or gender identity can still be draining.
Underlying negativity can also be harder to deal with, because the police may not be able to take action about this. It can also be hard to prove direct discrimination in these cases. Some of the people who you interact with may not even realise that they are saying or doing things that are negative for an LGBTQI person. This article will give you some advice on how to deal with this type of negativity.
Avoid them wherever possible
If you can, you might want to take steps to avoid the negative person wherever possible. Arranging group events can help you to avoid being in one-on-one situations with that person. You will both have the opportunity to talk to different people, which will help to keep your interactions to a minimum level. If you still find it difficult to be around that person, even in group situations, then you may have to make alternative arrangements. Excuse yourself from any social events where you know that they might be present, so that you don’t have to spend time with them. If you are worried that this will impact on your social life, speak to trusted friends and agree to arrange some events where that person will not be present. Your other friends should take the time to understand how the negativity is affecting you, and they should be happy to accommodate your needs, even if they do continue to see the other person.
It may be harder to avoid people if you do have to work with them, but you can take steps to reduce the levels of direct interaction that you might have with each other. For example, try to sit as far away from them as possible during group meetings, so that you are not forced into a conversation with them. Focus on other employees who you have a better relationship with or who are more positive about your sexual orientation or gender identity.
Handling a Negative Conversation
If you do end up in a conversation with them, and they start to be abusive about the LGBTQI community, you should try to take steps to deal with the abuse and change the conversation to something else that you would be more comfortable with. It can be difficult to change the topic if they have their heart set on discussing something specific, so you can try to reduce your engagement. Noncommittal words and phrases can help to show the person that you are not interested in talking to them about that particular topic. Alternatively, you can try to ask positive leading questions. These questions are designed to encourage people to come to positive realisations on their own. It may help them to realise that what they are saying is offensive to LGBTQI people. Positive question strategies do not work with all people though, and can cause some people to double down on the negative or discriminatory statements that they are making.
Do not confront them
Aggressively confronting a person about their negativity can actually end up solidifying their prejudices, and they may use this as ammunition against you in the future. They may end up remembering your aggression and your confrontation, and then applying these feelings to all other LGBTQI people in the future. You are unlikely to change their mind by putting them in a situation where they feel unhappy or challenged. If this type of behaviour is occurring in the workplace, then you should speak to your HR team or line manager, who may be able to tackle this problem for you instead.
Avoid discrimination of your own
It is possible that the other person’s negativity may be based on religious beliefs. If this is the case, you must take care not to discriminate against them because of these beliefs. Although their beliefs do not override your rights as an LGBTQI person, you should take care to avoid direct challenges to their religion or they may be able to bring a discrimination case against you instead. It can be really hard to adjudicate in cases like this, so you need to take steps to avoid the possibility that you will be punished unfairly.
Silence them with Kindness
Sometimes the best way to deal with negativity is to approach the situation with positivity. Be nice and polite to that person at all times, so that they cannot associate you with anything negative. Your positive attitude can also help you to dispel any negative feeling that may have been instilled in you by the other person’s negative attitude.