How can I talk to someone about their behaviour?

Have you noticed your mates' making comments about women whilst you're out? Overheard a stranger say something vulgar that they shouldn’t have?

Perhaps seen a woman look upset after an altercation with her partner?

Sometimes it’s difficult to know what you can do to help in these situations. Here’s what you can do:

Talk to them

Sound familiar? If your friends are using language like this, it’s not on. Your mates are most likely to listen to you if you speak up - as someone they know, trust and can relate to. It’s important for you to call out inappropriate behaviour, to encourage your mates to stop and think about the language and behaviour they are using. Never feel pressured to laugh along to sexist jokes or misogynistic ‘banter’.

How do I tell my mates it’s wrong?

Start by having the conversation with your mates to address the problem. Be direct, call them out, pull them aside (if it’s safe to do so) and tell them it’s not ok. If you can’t talk to them at the time, change the conversation and bring it up the next day to tell them that their behaviour was unacceptable.

If you're struggling to approach the situation with your mates, try some of these conversation starters:

“I'm not sure if you meant to upset that girl - but you did. That’s not okay.”
“It’s really not cool to act like that. It’s embarrassing. Just think about what you’re doing.”
“That’s not okay mate. When you treat women like that it makes me uncomfortable.”
“That joke wasn’t funny, it was sexist and disrespectful. Why do you think that was ok to say?”

  • When talking to your mates, always try to approach these conversations directly and confidently.
  • If you don’t feel as though you can speak to your mate alone, perhaps reach out to your other friends and work together to address the issue.
  • You can confront your mate and have the conversation with him in a group setting if you feel this is safer and appropriate, or even take him away from the situation and speak to him privately with another one of your mates.

These conversations can be very difficult but they are necessary to help tackle violence against women in your own social circles.