Active Bystander Strategies

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Strategy: Name or Acknowledge an Offense

Name or identify inappropriate behavior so it isn’t just glossed over or ignored.
Create an opening for discussion.

Direct feedback in the moment may be perceived as disruptive or inappropriate, depending on the forum. Waiting may be more effective in some cases. Highlight the damaging effect of the offense, while avoiding inflammatory language or judgments.


  • Situation #1
    A teammate makes an off-color joke (e.g. involving an offensive stereotype) at a project meeting.

    Response: “I don’t feel comfortable with that kind of humor in this setting—I think someone here might have felt offended.”
    Response: “Ouch!”

  • Situation #4
    You hear a fan at an athletic event make a cruel remark about someone on the opposing team, who seemed to overhear it.

    Response: “I’m sure you didn’t mean it, but that could be hurtful.”


Strategy List | Situation List

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