Strategy: Talk privately with the inappropriate actor
Give clear feedback and express your opinion in a way that allows
the inappropriate actor to save face.
This strategy clearly has risks if the person is of higher status
or has power over you in some way. Whether or not the person “gets
it” probably depends a lot on your relationship and the level of
trust/credibility with the person receiving your feedback.
An important part of getting your message heard is to allow the recipient
of your feedback the opportunity to save face, and explain him- or herself..
- Situation #1
A teammate makes
an off-color joke (e.g. involving an offensive stereotype) at a project
Response (privately, after meeting): “Look, I know
you well enough to know that you probably didn’t intend any offense
with your joke. But just the same don’t feel comfortable with
that kind of humor in this setting—I think someone may have been
- Situation #2
graduate student receives a public dressing down by a professor in a
Response (privately, during regular individual meeting
time): “I think
your criticisms were reasonable ones. But I know I make mistakes
sometimes too, and I would much rather hear about it in private
than have it brought up in front of the whole lab.”
Strategy List | Situation