I recently traveled to Russia to work with an incredible team of socially responsible business leaders and started an ongoing international dialogue about the power of businesses to promote peace and create positive change in the world. It was so cool to share my expertise about employee empowerment in this context.
I shared an abridged version of liftUPlift’s harassment bystander intervention training as I talked about empowering employees to prevent harassment in their workplaces. The word “harassment” is so taboo in Russia, however, that I used only examples or synonyms, such as “uncomfortable situations” or “harmful behavior.” I also tried to use more positive framing throughout, such as changing the goal from “preventing harassment” to “creating safe and inclusive spaces.”
This simple change in wording made my audiences so much more comfortable and engaged with the topic. I learned that I don’t need to use the word “harassment” to teach people how to speak up for what’s right in any uncomfortable situation.
Even in the U.S., the word “harassment” causes cognitive dissonance for most audiences, thus the word becomes a barrier to addressing the problem. That’s why I’m keeping all the positive reframing I did to my presentations when I was in Russian. I expect it will make a huge improvement in the effectiveness of my workshops, and that’s really exciting. As I teach others, I am always learning and improving, and that’s one of my favorite things about the work we do at liftUPlift Worldwide!
PHOTO CREDIT Dmitriy Emelyanov