What does it mean to intervene?
Getting in the way can be the difference between harassment ending or continuing and even becoming worse. Intervening does not require courage or advanced skills, but I can require a bit of practice. We will help you on your way to becoming a better colleague or friend by a few easy tips.
Once you start, just keep going and soon enough will see your surrounding picking up and following you. Remember that intervening is not only about harassment but also someone seemingly not feeling OK (being sick, too drunk etc.). Your act can be the difference and not everyone is in the right shape or mind to act themselves.
Responsibility as manager or similar
At Chalmers, no manager, superior or lecturer has the right to harass, ridicule or use master suppression techniques on anyone. Still, power play can make it difficult to know how to relate to a situation in a more casual setting, like a party or dinner at work or school. A manager or similar must be extra attentive on their surroundings and be a role model when it comes to giving support or intervening in a situation. Only then will they encourage others to follow by setting a good example.
What you can do
If it feels right…
- …speak up right away. A simple interruption can quickly terminate the situation and shift focus. It will also draw attention to the person creating the situation and involve the rest of the group. It can be as simple as a “Sorry, what did you say? I didn’t quite get it.”
- …speak up afterwards. It’s easy to miss the situation or not knowing what to do. But you can still show your support and act by talking to the involved persons after and either tell them that something was not OK or ask if someone is OK. This simple act can make a big difference for both parties.
- …take immediate stand on the subjects side. Either by physically placing yourself between the subject and the one creating the situation. An effective way it to combine with a distraction technique such as “Hey, where did you find [coffee, dessert, brochures…]? Can you show me?” and the situation is immediately cancelled. You can also confirm to the subject that you see them with just eye contact or a nod and ask them after if they are OK or how you perceived the situation. Showing support can make the subject feel they have an ally and next time you have each others back. And even if you misinterpreted the situation it’s never wrong to be thoughtful.
- …ask for assistance by a friend, co-worker or fellow student. Ask them for advice on what to do next or next time it happens. This will show your surroundings that you are aware and including them will make them more aware as well.
- …talk to your manager or boss and make them aware of the situation. If it’s something you’ve seen repeatedly it is even more serious and the manager’s obligation to look into it.
- …tell us about it here at Safe at Chalmers. You can also choose to be anonymous.
More tips and inspiration
We have selected some useful links for further reading and inspiration. Videos can be a helpful tool when reaching a new audience.