There’s a full day conference going on right now, Diverse-City, aimed at ‘Promoting equality and diversity and sharing experiences across City’s community’. Unfortunately I was only able to attend this one session, led by Scott Solder, but I found it very interesting and thought that some of the techniques discussed might be helpful for us in our working as well as our personal lives.
In a nutshell: people often don’t intervene when they see someone ill, being attacked, or bullied or harassed (the main thing this training was directed at). This is because we feel, when we’re in groups, like someone else should take responsibility for helping the person.
Active Bystander Training is designed to help you overcome that and take some appropriate action (with the caveat that you shouldn’t put yourself or any perceived victim in danger).
The most useful part of this was “The 4 Ds” – a decision making tool. In the heat of the moment, say if someone made a homophobic joke in a meeting, what do you do?
Direct Action – you could call the behaviour out, and we covered some great techniques for doing this effectively, including the fabulous ‘get them to explain the joke as if you don’t get why it’s supposed to be funny’ technique.
Distraction – methods to diffuse situations and move them along without confrontation.
Delegation – how to report a situation so people with authority can take action (perhaps better termed ‘escalation’).
Delay – if it wasn’t safe to take action, or you weren’t sure in the moment, what could you do then? Covers discussing the incident with the target to support them, and speaking to the perpetrator after the event.
There was an overview of some useful phrases and body language, and we also received a toolkit summarising the talk, which I can lend to anyone who’d like to read it. I’ve also found some resources connected to Scott’s session on Imperial’s website, as they’ve used it extensively: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/engineering/staff/human-resources/active-bystander/
If you see this training offered again, I’d recommend attending it – it’s given me a lot of food for thought.