Active Bystander Strategies

Physical Danger/Ambulance:

Emotional Distress:

Assessing Situations
Responding to
Active Bystander Strategies
Resources on Campus
Advice Column
Success Stories
Interactive Scenarios
Training Sessions
Definition & Philosophy



Join the Email List

Contact Us


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.

Tips :
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 meeting.

    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 offended.”
  • Situation #2
    A fellow graduate student receives a public dressing down by a professor in a lab meeting.

    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 List

MIT Logo

Email Us  |  Mediation@MIT  |  MIT Home
© 2004 Active Bystander Program and Mediation@MIT.