I hate being in the wrong, especially because – as my track record suggests – I’m in the wrong a lot.
I’m also going to go out on several limbs and say most people aren’t particularly fond of being in the wrong either.
No, it might not be a situation that anyone wants to find themselves in but it does happen, and how we react to someone calling us out for our actions can be the difference between maintaining a relationship/friendship/acquaintance-ship(?) and losing one.
So, if you lose yourself for a hot sec and come out with any disrespectful behaviour towards women, a) expect people to do something to you and b) be prepared to take their feedback on board.
Here are a few ways you can respond without digging a deeper hole, disrespecting someone further or sinking one of your relo-ships.
For those wanting to call out this behaviour: remember that most people want to learn and work on themselves so after the initial shock and embarrassment of getting called out wears off, they’ll be much more receptive to what you have to say.
BREATHE BEFORE YOU BACKTALK
Defensiveness can be such a knee-jerk reaction when some of us feel uncomfortable and it’s okay to admit that about ourselves, as long as we have a way to work around it.
If you know that your first instinct is to get your back up and deflect, just stop for a bit and breeeeathe. It’ll give you time to assess the situation, people’s reactions and your own thoughts.
HAVE A BIT OF A MULL
Whether it was a sexist comment or anything that makes someone else feel inferior, attacked or self-conscious, your choice of words paint yourself in a particular light. So, if you have said something sexist, people are going to question your own character.
Just something to think about. Mull, if you will.
ASK IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
The overall gameplan is to get to a stage where we’re used to people doing something when they notice disrespectful behaviour until eventually, it becomes a rare occurrence for people to be acting like an ass.
If you want to refrain from acting like an ass yourself – and if someone’s just called you out on something you’ve said – ask genuine questions. Questions like, “How was that rude??” will make you look defensive and pretty bad tbh, but if you go for a simple “I’m sorry that was awful, have I slipped up like that before?” – that’ll earn you some approving nods.
LEAN INTO IT
So it’s pretty clear that you genuinely screwed up. How you handle the next steps is pretty damn crucial (without putting too much pressure on ya).
My humble advice? Just own it. Admit it was a shit thing you did and you’ll be surprised by how receptive people are. No one wants conflict with each other but we also can’t let important issues like disrespecting women slide.
They’ll forgive ya if you give them a reason to.
Hit up Our Watch’s Doing Nothing Does Harm campaign to get some more pointers on how to do something about disrespect towards women.Image: iStock / GCShutter