We all experience this, or if we haven’t yet we know we will eventually. What do you do when a member does or says something inappropriate to other members in person or online? Making sure members know the specifics of the Code of Conduct is a great long term strategy, but sometimes you need to respond to a situation immediately as it’s happening. I think exchanging our experiences here, and coming up with example “scripts” would be useful to process the situation and then learn from each other.
I just had to deal with a situation last week when a member (who is self-professed autistic) made an inappropriate (though complimentary) comment in Slack about another member’s appearance. Though the comment itself could have been considered “innocent”, they didn’t know each other and it “felt” weird. This is the first time I had to personally deal with a situation, so I freaked out a little in my head and then did this:
- Messaged the recipient of the comment to let them know we saw the comment and would handle the situation.
- Deleted the comments from the general channel.
- Sent the following to the member who made the comment: “Hi ------, I just wanted to check in with you and let you know that I deleted your most recent message in the #general channel. While I will assume you had good intentions, we want to make sure that our space is safe and welcoming for all members. Commenting on others’ physical appearance is something we’d like to discourage as it is a form of harassment (even if it was meant in a complimentary way). Please let me know if you’d like to discuss this with me or have any questions!”
- Checked back in with the comment recipient to let them know how the situation was being handled, that we would be watchful of that member’s future behavior, and finally to reach out to us in case that member continued their problematic behavior.
Thankfully, the situation was resolved without any conflict but I was a little shaky all afternoon from the adrenaline.