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Tips for Taking Action Effectively

Interrupting Bias: Calling Out

Calling Out:

  • When we need to let someone know that their words or actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated
  • When we need to interrupt in order to prevent further harm
  • Will likely feel hard and uncomfortable, but necessary
  • Allows us to hit the “pause” button and break the momentum 

Try these:

  • Wow. Nope. Ouch. I need to stop you right there.
  • That word/comment is really triggering and offensive. Be mindful and pick a different word.
  • I need to push back against that. I disagree. I don’t see it that way.
  • Okay, I am having a strong reaction to that and I need to let you know why.
  • I don’t find that funny. Tell me why that’s funny to you.
  • I wonder if you’ve considered the impact of your words.
  • Hmmm.. maybe you want to think this one through a bit more and speak about it later.
  • I need you to know how your comment just landed on me.
  • That’s not our culture here. Those aren’t our values.
  • Is sex/gender/gender identity/gender expression/race/class/ ethnicity/religion/ability/ immigration status/ body type/ marital status/ age/ pregnancy relevant to your point? How?
  • It sounded like you just said _______. Is that really what you meant?
  • I feel obligated as your peer/colleague/co-worker /friend/supervisor to tell you that your comment wasn’t okay.
  • It sounds like you’re making some assumptions that we need to unpack a bit.
  • You may or may not realize this, but you’re talking about me/my story/my identity markers.
  • I need to leave the room if the conversation is going to continue down this road.

Remember, it is a powerful thing for the target of oppression to hear these words from the mouth of an ally!

Adapted from Oregon Center for Educational Equity: What Did You Just Say? Responses to Racist Comments Collected from the Field

Interrupting Bias: Calling In

Calling In:

  • When there is an opportunity to explore deeper, make meaning together, and find a mutual sense of understanding across difference
  • When we are seeking to understand or learn more
  • When we want to help imagine different perspectives, possibilities, or outcomes
  • Provides for multiple perspectives and encourages paradigm shifts
  • Focused on reflection, not reaction
  • Is not just a suggestion with an uptick (Don’t you think you should…?)

Try These:

  • I’m curious. What was your intention when you said that?
  • How might the impact of your words/actions differ from your intent?
  • What sort of impact do you think your decision/comment/action might have?
  • How might someone else see this differently? Is it possible that someone might misinterpret your words/actions?
  • How might your own comfort level, assumptions, expectations, prior experiences be influencing your beliefs, decisions, process?
  • How is ___ different from ____? What is the connection between ___ and ___?
  • What criteria are you using to measure/assess etc?
  • How did you decide, determine, conclude...
  • What would have to change in order for ____?
  • What do you assume to be true about ____?
  • Why is this the best way to proceed? What other approaches have you considered?
  • What is making you the most fearful, nervous, uncomfortable, or worried?
  • Why do you think that is the case?
  • Why do you believe that to be true?
  • Why do you think others have/haven’t moved in that direction?
  • How do you know it’s working?
  • Why did the result or response cause a problem for you?
  • What would other stakeholders say/think/feel?
  • In your opinion, what is the best-case scenario?

Think: How might we call out the behavior, while calling in the person?

Adapted from Oregon Center for Educational Equity: What Did You Just Say? Responses to Racist Comments Collected from the Field