What happens in What Is No?
In What is No? participants are divided into groups of 3 to 5 persons. Each person reads a case history involving alleged sexual harassment. In a 5 person group, 2 or 3 persons read the incident from the alleged perpetrator’s point of view and 2 or 3 read the same incident from the alleged victim’s point of view. Then each person in the group answers a series of questions in which the participant is asked to decide whether sexual harassment actually occurred as described in his or her version of the incident. They answer these questions without any input from the others in the group. Then the group as a whole tries to reach a consensus on the same questions. This is not an easy task as the participants often have strong opinions about what is right and wrong in the scenario. In the second part of the exercise, the situation evolves and the group must decide how to prevent it or what to do about it.
What is unique about What is No?
Most programs on sexual harassment present a list of do’s and don’ts and back up the message with horror examples of jury awards, lost jobs and destroyed lives. Most of the participants listen passively and say to themselves, “I would never do that.” And most of them are correct because the examples that are presented are often so blatant that most participants can’t relate to them. It is the assumption of What Is No? that the more pervasive type of sexual harassment is more subtle than the gross violations that get to court. The cause of this type of harassment is often miscommunication, different interpretation of a person’s motives and insensitivity to the impact that one’s behavior has on another. It is this subtle type of sexual harassment that What Is No? helps the participants understand and thus prevent.
But what really sets What Is No? apart from most presentations of sexual harassment issues is the involvement of the participants. They don’t sit back and passively take in information. As one person who uses the program on a regular basis reported, “90% of the talking was done by the participants, not me”
What results can I expect from What Is No?
It will help you create a work or classroom culture that thrives on mutual respect.
It will help the participants:
- Gain sensitivity to issues that are troublesome for the other gender;
- Gain awareness of why harassment is such a complicated problem;
- Practice communication skills that address emotionally volatile issues;
- Become aware of what constitutes harassment and how to prevent it.