University of Southern Indiana

How to Make the First Move

Who are you?  Who do you want to be?
If you were out with your friends and saw this situation, would you know what to do?

What to Do
In emergency situations:

  1. Look for the best exit strategies (how to get out of the situation) for everyone involved.
  2. Choose the most effective way of helping for the situation. See the specific topic links for sample situations.
  3. Be clear and direct with any requests.
  4. Publicly state your commitment to help: “I will do X.”
  5. Engage others: “You do Y.”
  6. Call for assistance if necessary.

In non-emergency situations:

  1. Determine the goal of the intervention.
  2. 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.
  3. Interrupt, distract, and/or delay a situation that you think might be problematic, before it becomes an emergency.
  4. Ask questions to understand their point of view.
  5. Do not make excuses for the person or enable them.
  6. Conduct conversations in a safe environment. Avoid gossip and don’t spread rumors.

Contact Christine Johnston


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