Calling out problematic behaviour safely
For Griffith’s virtual It’s on all of us week, we’re sharing tools that Shaan Ross-Smith and Anoushka Dowling from MATE taught us to call out disrespectful behaviour in a non-confrontational way in their webinar ‘Respectfully challenging problematic behaviour’.
It’s on all of us week is an annual event to promote Griffith’s Safe Campuses initiative, which aims to foster campuses free from discrimination and harassment by empowering staff and students to act on inappropriate behaviour.
Calling out problematic behaviour is hard. Fear of confrontation, being judged, losing friends or getting it wrong is valid. Not to mention barriers like social norms, no one else speaking up and not knowing what to say.
Anoushka and Shaan said if we want change, we should challenge the status quo and if you’re the one to speak up, you’ll feel good. And in terms of what to say, Shaan and Anoushka had this advice for webinar attendees:
|They say||To hold them accountable, you could say|
|Something to diminish, like ‘Just a joke’ or ‘just saying’||‘I don’t understand the joke. Could you please explain it to me?’ or ‘do you really think that is the case?’|
|Something controlling||‘I really want to keep hanging out with you but I’m not comfortable with you speaking to your partner like that’|
|Something sexist||‘I wonder if your opinion would be the same if she were a man?’|
|Something racist||‘I think it is best if we don’t talk about this when we’re together because it’s clear that we have very different views’ or ‘I used to think that too but I learnt more and I changed my opinion’|
|Something at work||‘I’m not comfortable with this conversation,’ ‘I’d hate for you to get in trouble and I think you would for that language, maybe you should have a look at the Code of Conduct’ or ‘that hasn’t been my experience with … ’|
Being an effective bystander isn’t about confrontation, it’s about creating the change you want to see in the world.
The person you challenge won’t necessarily change, but when you ask them to clarify their position or say you don’t agree, you send a message that their behaviour is not OK and they’re accountable.
There’s another ‘Respectfully challenging problematic behaviour’ webinar on Thursday 27 August: register here.