How to Make the First Move
Who Are You? The friend, the employee, the bystander? Whoever you are,
you can change the outcome of a situation.
Situations come in two broad categories: emergencies and non-emergencies.
- Emergencies are those that require immediate intervention. These are things like: a drunk friend is
walking out to his car with keys in hand, a drunk couple is heading into a bedroom at a party, or a fight is brewing between two people.
- Non-emergency situations are those that may not require immediate intervention,
but you still need to do something. These can include: a friend is having academic trouble, is depressed, or may have an eating disorder.
Non-emergencies can turn into emergencies very quickly. It is always best to intervene early!!
Help also comes in two forms: direct and indirect.
- Direct: you take responsibility as the primary helper and/or speak with the person directly.
- Indirect: you request that someone else take responsibility as the primary helper (i.e. Police,
Public Safety, EMS), or talk to someone else who could be helpful and give guidance (i.e. teacher, administrator, coach).
How you make a move is dependent on the situation. You handle emergencies very different from non-emergencies. You always want to make sure a situation is safe
before you get involved – if not, it’s time to call in assistance.
In emergency situations:
- Look for the best exit strategies (how to get out of the situation) for everyone involved.
- Choose the most effective way of helping for the situation. See the individual topic links for sample situations.
- Be clear and direct with any requests.
- Publicly state your commitment to help: “I will do X.”
- Engage others: “You do Y.”
In non-emergency situations:
- Determine the goal of the intervention.
- Think about and practice what you want to say. Be prepared for a negative reaction. People can feel attacked when confronted and can get angry and defensive. Assure them that you care about them.
- Interrupt, distract, and/or delay a situation that you think might be problematic, before it becomes an emergency.
- Ask questions to understand their point of view.
- Do not make excuses for the person or enable them.
- Conduct conversations in a safe environment. Avoid gossip and don’t spread rumors.
We express our appreciation to the University of Arizona C.A.T.S. Life Skills Program for allowing us to use modified versions of their STEP UP! Program content in this USI campus initiative.