What Will You Do?

Below are some techniques to employ in overcoming reticence about stepping in to assist in potentially charged interactions, or to encourage safe, healthful behavior, or to create a more caring climate on campus: 

Overcoming Bystander Barriers— Different Levels of Involvement

     It helps to know that there are different ways for a bystander can assist—and not all of them involve placing yourself in the center of the concerning moment. 

Direct: The direct method requires purposeful one-on-one interaction with either involved party. Examples: "Hey, what are you doing?" or "Are you ok?"

Distract: By using a diversion to distract those involved in a conflict, you offer them another focus for their attention, which may defuse the situation.

Delegate: You may want to ask assistance from  someone else who may be better suited to intervene or provide you with support—a co-worker or a Public Safety officer, for instance.

Intervention Strategies To Guide Interactions

     When you do choose to speak directly to the parties involved, these tools will help de-escalate the potential conflict and strong emotions.

"I" Statements: Focus on your feelings rather than criticizing the other person: 1) First, state your feelings; 2) Then, name the behavior you see; 3) Third, state how you would like the person to respond. 

Humor: Bringing a sense of humor to an intervention can cast the situation in a new light, offering a different perspective to those involved. It reduces the tension and makes it easier for the person to hear you. However, do not undermine what you say with too much humor: "funny" doesn’t mean "unimportant." 

"Bring It Home": By asking the speakers to consider the effects of their words on others—and to imagine how they'd feel, hearing those words used against themselves or against loved ones—it prevents that person from dehumanizing the targeted individual. Examples: "I hope no one ever talks about you like that,“ or "What if someone were badmouthing your partner's identity?" 

"We're Friends, Right?"Reminding the individual of your friendship and concern reframes the conversation as a caring, supportive intervention. EXAMPLE: "Hey, Roger. As your friend, I’ve got to tell you that….” 

Create a Shift in Attitudes 

     If you really want to work toward a change in behavior, you'll want to first create a shift in attitudes. To do that, you'll need to model the calm, thoughtful, behavior that you hope to see in others. Check in with yourself to make sure that you are not going into the situation with prejudices of your own-- but that are ready, yourself, to listen and learn. 

First, Take Care of Yourself: Find an ally, a supportive friend, with whom you can vent your frustrations. This will allow you to be more grounded—confident of what you want to say and clear about the change you hope to see—as you work to shift the attitudes toward a caring campus climate.

Always give respect to the other personListening is one of the most effective tools we have to lower conflict. To listen is to offer another person respect for the humanness that we share.

Listen for What is UnderneathHurtful behavior is a sign of an injury in need of healing. If that pain is heard and given respect and attention, then the individual will have the space to hear what new information you may have to share.

Engage in open talkThe beginning of any change starts with listening and feeling listened to. By creating this climate for conversation, you are making a conscious choice to improve the situation for those around you.