Kim Scott on how to be an upstander for coworkers

An enormous a part of why I wrote this e book is to acknowledge and specific gratitude for the important position of people that get up for their coworkers. For each unhealthy expertise I’ve had as a lady within the office, I’ve had a number of good experiences with individuals who had been there to assist me navigate these moments and help me afterward. I’m so grateful to these buddies, colleagues, staff, bosses, and even strangers. They’re upstanders, they usually far outnumber the individuals who trigger hurt. Upstanders gas my optimism that we will clear up the issue of office injustice.

Upstanders are important to a tradition of, what I name, “Simply Work.” Not solely do they assist the targets of office injustice really feel much less alone and fewer gaslighted; additionally they present clear suggestions to the one who induced hurt in a means that minimizes defensiveness and maximizes the percentages that the offender will make amends: Everybody feels higher in regards to the office because of this. Upstanders additionally present different potential upstanders how to make issues a bit of bit extra honest. They reveal that standing up for justice can be carried out with out as a lot threat as many worry.


An upstander’s job is to maintain up a mirror, inviting others to discover what the upstander notices. One thing as easy and direct as “I believe what you stated sounds biased” can be surprisingly efficient. Upstanders can use “I” statements that invite the opposite particular person to perceive the scenario from their perspective with out attacking them.


While you’re providing crucial suggestions on any matter, however particularly one as delicate as bias, it’s not efficient to assault somebody’s character, morality, or character, or to indicate disgust. If you happen to say and even indicate one thing like “You’re a sexist/racist/homophobic turd ball,” it might really feel warranted and cathartic, nevertheless it’s not going to encourage an individual to look at their pondering. Are you able to think about anybody who would reply sincerely, “Oh, thanks a lot for letting me know. Now that I perceive that I’m a turd ball, I’ll change my methods”?

Although many worry that confronting bias will hurt their relationship with the particular person they’re confronting, there are easy and productive approaches you may take that can enhance your working relationships—and your workforce’s tradition. This isn’t about giving in to somebody’s concept of PC orthodoxy. Successfully standing up to bias while you discover it should enable you to and your workforce work higher collectively to obtain your targets. When one particular person’s bias harms one other particular person on the workforce, it’s exhausting to get sh*t carried out collectively.


What do you say when folks consciously imagine that the stereotypes they’re spouting off about are true—when you’re confronting lively prejudice quite than unconscious bias? It’s exhausting to reply to bias, nevertheless it’s a lot tougher to reply when folks imagine that somebody’s gender, race, faith, sexual orientation, gender identification, socioeconomic background, or another private attribute makes them incapable or inferior ultimately.

If you happen to’re like me, you’re in all probability much less optimistic {that a} confrontation will end in change when it’s prejudice quite than bias that you just’re coping with. Individuals received’t apologize for their prejudiced beliefs simply since you level them out; they know what they suppose. So why trouble discussing it?

Simply Work: Get *t Completed Quick & Truthful by Kim Scott

The explanation to confront prejudice is to draw a brilliant line between that particular person’s proper to imagine no matter they need and your proper not to have that perception imposed upon you.

Utilizing an “It” assertion is an efficient means to demarcate this boundary. One kind of “It” assertion appeals to human decency: “It’s disrespectful/merciless/etcetera to . . .” For instance, “it’s ridiculous not to rent essentially the most certified candidate due to their hair.” One other references the insurance policies or a code of conduct at your organization: For instance, “it’s a violation of our firm coverage to refuse to rent a professional candidate due to their hair.” The third invokes the regulation: For instance, “it’s unlawful to refuse to rent somebody due to their hair.”


On a sensible degree, upstanders are in one of the best place to intervene as a result of the character of bullying is to isolate the goal and separate the person from the pack. The minute an upstander stands up to bullies, they know that they’re dealing with two folks, not one. Generally it might be your worry of the particular person doing the bullying that will get in your means; different instances, you might marvel if it’s acceptable to insert your self into this case. May it be seen as patronizing to act on behalf of the bullied?


While you see one thing that appears flawed, you could have a number of choices for how to reply.
Hollaback!, a nonprofit that develops coaching for upstanders, affords an efficient “5D” strategy to be conscious of the various things you are able to do to shine a highlight on bullying. The group recommends five possible steps: direct, distract, delegate, delay, doc.

So, for those who’re unsure what to do, run by way of every of the 5 Ds in your head. And for those who’re nonetheless not sure which strategy to go along with, inform your self to select one thing.


Once we witness injustice it’s our obligation to proactively discover a means to help folks harmed. Being a passive bystander who merely watches hurt being carried out, maybe feeling unhealthy about it however not doing something about it, is unhealthy for everybody.

Additional, once we discover injustice, whether or not it’s small or giant, we’ve a accountability to take motion. And we’ve an obligation to discover it: Being unaware doesn’t give us absolution. Admittedly, we will’t at all times clear up the issue. However we will at all times present solidarity with the one who is being harmed, and that acknowledgment—that “one thing is flawed right here”—is invaluable.

Kim Scott is the writer of Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & Fair and was a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and different tech firms. She beforehand held management roles at Apple and Google.

Tailored from Simply Work: Get Sh*t Completed, Quick & Truthful by Kim Scott. Copyright © 2021 by Kim Scott. Reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.