By Rebecca Hodson
We’ve all been in a situation where one of your friends says something that puts your stomach in a knot and fills you with dread. You begin to question whether they even realise what they have said or if they understand quite how problematic it was. But they often just sit there oblivious. Perhaps they make inappropriate jokes or even use racial slurs in conversation, and it’s important to understand that there is a line between a joke and being offensive. Now, while this could mean that they are a horrible person who you should definitely not be friends with, the majority of the time it’s more likely they are simply unaware and need educating.
That’s where you come in. The more you police your friends, the easier it gets. One key thing to remember is they are your friend, and real friends listen to each other whether they like it or not. It’s the same principle whether we are telling our friend their outfit looks questionable, or that they really need to wash their dishes. So why is it so hard to point out problematic behaviour and to tell them they are morally incorrect? Because we love and care for them. But if they feel the same for you, they should listen to you and see that you have good intentions.
An important thing is not to wait, as it’s a lot easier to confront someone when you can recall the exact situation rather than paraphrasing it a week later. Just consider how you would feel if you found out that you’d upset someone, and no one had let you know until much later. If you call them out the moment they say something, you can avoid any awkward tension that might linger after the comment. The reality is that most people don’t want to upset people, they might just read too much Daily Mail and that certain language is publicly acceptable. Try to be understanding of this and not judgemental, and help your friend recognise their mistake and question them as to whether they think that it was acceptable.
In today’s society, we need to be a little more conscious of the things we say, and by calling out your friends, you can minimise the offensive comments which are out in the world. Finally, be prepared for conflict, it’s in our human nature to get defensive when we are called out, but just stay calm and let them know where you’re coming from. Don’t take their reactions personally, and remember you are only trying to help them out. Friends should be able to police each other when their behaviour becomes problematic, and it is certainly something we all need to do more of in todays society.