Addressing undesirable behaviours

We’ve had two instances now which made me feel uncomfortable but because it was in a big group i froze and didn’t say anything.

  1. A slight overly aggressive interaction with dumb name calling between two attendees. In the break they seemed fine and happy and they continued to work together afterwards. (They didn’t know each other before)
  2. An almost racist comment today which was fronted with “I know what this sound sounds like” towards Indian testers and about how they speak or teach stuff on YouTube.
    We had testers from India in he room.

Had this happened before and what did you do?

Wow! That’s pretty bad.
It’s not happened in London (that I know of). But I’d approach both of these cases in two ways:
Before doing anything, loop in someone else to help you - e.g. if Dan B is moderating, then make sure he’s in the loop and involved in helping to solve the problem with you.
So, firstly, I’d pull the people aside quietly and have a polite quiet word to reiterate that they need to be respectful as this is a safe space for everyone to learn, and that name calling and derogatory language can’t happen, as it instantly makes it unsafe for people. I’d also explain what I heard and why some people would consider it offensive or aggressive.
Secondly, after that chat, before starting the next section of the evening, I’d reiterate to the whole group about it being safe, and that everyone should be respectful of everyone else in the room.

If the problem people then continue with the aggression or offensive comments, then I’d ask them politely to leave as they aren’t abiding by the rules in making the space safe to communicate and collaborate.

Thanks Dan!
That helps a lot. Both incidents were during a big white board session so would you wait until you start the small group exercise or any exercise and then ask them to have a word?

No problem!
Hmm… It depends. If what they are saying and continuing to say, I’d stop what I was doing, and remind the person and the room there and then to be respectful and that we don’t care for the derogatory language or the aggressive tone, and then continue.

If it’s something that was said, but the person has stopped, and it doesn’t look like they are going to continue saying it, then I’d probably wait until after the whiteboard session, then have the quiet word.

Really depends on context. If it was something really horrific, I’d make it clear that’s not acceptable and I may even ask the person to leave. (I’d rather they leave than the people they’re offending leave).

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Thank you! I have some more tools now to deal with this should it happen again. I’m going to go by if it makes me feel uncomfortable I will raise it with them.