Harassment: “The Twist” Test

Let’s say that you just observed a behaviour in the workplace that somehow made you uncomfortable, where your gut tells you that maybe some offensive line was crossed. Or heaven help us! –  let’s say that it was you who said or did something that makes you wonder whether you’ve just crossed that elusive line between `appropriate’ and `inappropriate’.

But you’re not really sure. The more you mull it over, the less sure you are.

You’re not alone. These `grey’ harassment situations are very difficult to diagnose. And if we don’t diagnose properly, we also cannot take intelligent action.

Here’s a little tool that you can use as a litmus test (it’s one of several easy-to-apply tools that I devised and teach that help diagnose harassment). I call it “The Twist”, and here’s how it works:  take one fact related to the situation, change it (=twist) and then see whether the answer to `was the line crossed’ becomes clearer.

Here’s an example based on a real-life situation:

A well-liked colleague has a strong French accent. It’s actually cute and endearing and everyone comments on it on a regular basis, mostly fondly. One day as you’re listening to that colleague’s presentation to a large group, another colleague whispers to you: “hey, what do you think – is she speaking English or French right now?”. You feel uncomfortable and confused by this comment, but not sure how to react.

This is a great opportunity to use `The Twist”! Ask yourself, “if this person had another type of accent (Chinese, Arab, Indian….), would it be okay to make these comments?”. If your answer is `no’, then diagnostically the line between `appropriate’ and `inappropriate’ had been crossed. The comments about the French accent should probably cease.

Typical situation to use The Twist might be:

When people are making fun of a male trait, twist it by asking “would we allow the same comments about females”?.

When it’s a joke or comment about low weight, would it be okay to make a similar comment about being overweight? .

When it’s a joke/comment about a generally-respected group (say, catholic), would it be okay if the same comment were directed toward a more vulnerable religion (Muslims, say, or Jews)?

 

Want to learn more? Have challenges to solve?  
Contact us now for your free, no-commitment consultation.

This entry was posted in Blog, Harassment, Leadership, Respectful Workplace. Bookmark the permalink.

LEARNING Hub

Access free learning tools, articles and other resources for you and your team.

REAL™ Solutions for Abrasive Leaders

Find out how you, as a senior executive or HR leader, can help restore the effectiveness of an abrasive leader.

Training Services

Discover how our training programs will energize and grow your people.

Organizational Solutions

Find out how we can help you with organizational development and initiatives.
Copyright © 2015 Bar-David Consulting. All Rights Reserved. Website by Geist Creative.
Menu