Dealing with disrespect

Eleanor Sharman 23/October/2022


1. The first stage of addressing disrespect is to ‘call it out’. This involves telling someone specifically and objectively what it was that YOU experienced that was inappropriate.

You make an ‘I’ statement.

Eg “I find it………(offensive /inaccurate etc) when you say ……(repeat the specific words or observed behaviour).”

2. Next, you have to clarify exactly why or how it was disrespectful.

For example, it might:

– be untrue or inaccurate.

– be an insult, a label or a ‘name’

– publically accuse you without having or sharing evidence to back it up

– presume to know your intentions or accusing you of negative ones.

– read more into your communication than what was presented (eg hidden negative meanings and messages about them or someone else). This implies that you’re being deceitful.

It can’t be that you just don’t agree with their point of view or that you have different information about a topic.

3. Next, the person needs to be allowed to respond. You need to rule out that your experience may have been down to misunderstanding or mis-percieving what was said or done.

4. If the person was just trying to communicate, you need to help them learn how to do this respectfully. You can ask them to consider:

– Is it true?

– Is it helpful (in achieving the goals of the group) ?

– is it necessary?

– Is it kind? In other words, have they made it about a person instead of the issue/topic?

– is this the right place to be saying it? Should it be part of a private conversation or does the discussion need to involve people who aren’t present?

5. If the message fulfils all the above criteria apart from ‘kind’, rephrase the communication for them in a way that gets the message across respectfully, to help them learn how it can be done differently.


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