The crucial class discrimination etiquette rules. The appropriate behaviors to avoid the most common forms of classism. Follow these rules to be inclusive and avoid offending others.
What class discrimination etiquette is
Class discrimination etiquette is the set of rules to be inclusive and avoid classism. Such rules include:
- How to train yourself to avoid class discrimination.
- The inappropriate behaviors to avoid.
- How to deal with classism.
Everyone should respect class discrimination etiquette to avoid discriminatory behaviors, respect others, and be inclusive.
If you experience or witness classism, follow the etiquette rules to appropriately deal with the offending party.
General class discrimination etiquette principles
People tend to feel more comfortable with someone who is similar to them. Such as someone with the same gender, ethnicity, religion, social class, and so on. Thus, when people perceive diversity, they may get uncomfortable or defensive.
Class discrimination etiquette is based on three main principles:
- Help people positively perceive diversity and avoid prejudice.
- Ensure equal opportunities.
- Avoid any behavior that can offend others based on their background, education, or wealth.
Class discrimination etiquette rules
1) Train yourself to get comfortable with background diversity
Classism is a form of discrimination that benefits the upper class at the expense of the lower class. Classism is rooted in a set of prejudices based on factors such as wealth, education, social network, or occupation. However, no one of these factors defines an individual. While there might be differences across social groups, such differences do not affect our basic rights and values as individuals.
Instead of focusing on the perceived diversity, it is best to train ourselves to focus on the similarities. The things that we have in common with other people are disproportionally more than the differences. We all eat, drink, breathe, spend time with someone we love, have fun, work, expect fair compensation for our work, and so on. Class is a factor that does not affect such similarities at all. Thus, it is irrelevant.
2) Avoid generalization based on class factors
Never generalize. Personal traits, behaviors, and social backgrounds are almost always disconnected. Education, wealth, or occupation do not define us or our values. They are not a predictor of how people will behave or of their personal qualities.
3) Adopt an inclusive language
Never use class slurs. Never refer to someone by their education, occupation, or wealth group. Similarly, avoid any term that can be perceived as derogatory based on someone’s education, occupation, income, or wealth. Avoid terms that imply that class can define an individual.
For example, “How much is Elon Musk worth?” implies that the worth of an individual is based solely on their net worth. Instead, “how much money does Elon Musk have?” is the appropriate form.
Avoid words, thoughts, or sentences that imply segregation. Such as “we” as opposed to “you” (your group) or “they”.
4) Challenge your own prejudice toward class
Prejudice leads to racism and discrimination. Thus, to avoid class discrimination, we need to fight our own prejudices.
Train yourself to challenge your own prejudice. Ask yourself whether your opinion about someone is based on your experience or on what other people say. It is best to base our opinions on our own first-hand experience. We cannot rely solely on what others may say or may have experienced, as they might be biased.
Similarly, ask yourself whether your opinion about someone would change if the person had a different wealth, education, social network, or occupation. Are there objective facts that informed your opinion? Or is your opinion based mostly on perceived factors?
5) Avoid sensitive topics
Avoid conversation topics that can be controversial, too personal, or at risk of misinterpretation. Some people that have experienced significant class discrimination may be particularly sensitive to some topics. Politics, religion, or history may be inappropriate, as they depend largely on personal preferences and interpretations.
It is most appropriate to make small talk to get to know other people. Small talk help build rapport, understand boundaries, and avoid venturing into conversation topics that may be sensitive.
6) Be tolerant of classism mistakes
Class discrimination is wrong and it should be prevented. However, it is the best etiquette to avoid confrontation. Instead, when possible, choose tolerance and dialogue.
People are generally good and want to be good. Classism often comes from a lack of education about equality or exposure to diversity. Thus, the best cure against classism is to patiently educate people and expose them to diversity in a non-threatening way.
When someone makes an offensive remark, do not confront them. Instead, patiently make them aware that their remark or behavior can be offensive to you. Briefly explain your reasons.
Try your best to not sound judgemental or self-righteous. Instead, consider yourself privileged because you received education about equality or exposure to diversity, while the other person clearly did not.
Do not expect immediate results. People need time to learn, absorb experiences, understand their mistakes, and learn from them. Be tolerant and have faith in others and their goodwill.
How to deal with class discrimination
Classism etiquette in your social circle
Help friends, relatives, and people you care about to correct their mistakes. Make them aware of what classism is and why it should be avoided. Be tolerant and non-confrontational. Try to start a dialogue and help them understand what behaviors to avoid and why. If the other person does not show any sign of improvement over time, it may be best to reconsider your relationship with them.
Classism etiquette at work or in the office
Every employer has the duty to create a work environment that is welcoming and inclusive. While a tolerant attitude is most appropriate in informal and social circles, class discrimination should not be tolerated in any professional or institutional setting.
If you experience or witness classism at work, you can politely correct the offending party. If the issue persists, avoid confrontation. Instead, involve your human resources function. When you find yourself in a work environment where classism is endemic, do not start a crusade and leave.
Classism etiquette at schools and universities
Educational institutions have the duty to educate people about equality. Thus, any discriminatory behavior in such venues cannot be tolerated and must be corrected.
If you experience or witness class discrimination in an educational institution, you should report it immediately to the institution’s governing bodies. If the issue persists, it is perfectly appropriate to escalate it to any supervisory institution.
Class discrimination etiquette: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
Avoid the worst class discrimination etiquette mistakes.
- 10/10. Discriminating based on factors such as wealth, education, or social network.
- 10/10. Tolerating persistent classism.
- 9/10. Making generalizations based on factors such as wealth, education, or social network.
- 8/10. Speaking in a non-inclusive language.
- The Social Psychology of Class and Classism: researchgate.net