Pick Your Battles

Consent work frequently involves situations that hurt, offend, or outrage us. It is easy to be reactive and feel you have to Do Something about every bad actor you encounter, but resist the urge. You will be safer and more effective if you slow down and make careful, deliberate choices about which battles to fight.

1. Assess the situation

Before acting, we ask ourselves three questions:

What are my goals?

Start by identifying specific goals. This isn’t a specific goal:

  • Morgan is a dangerous instructor: I need to Do Something!

These are specific goals:

  • Stop Morgan from injuring students during classes
  • Warn people that Morgan’s online yoga videos are unsafe

How can I best accomplish each goal?

Identify the most effective strategy for accomplishing each goal. If your goal is to prevent Morgan injuring students during classes and there are only two yoga studios in your city, you might be able to accomplish that goal via a private conversation with the studio owners.

On the other hand, if you want to warn people about Morgan’s videos, you’ll probably need to make a public statement.

How risky is each goal?

Different courses of action entail different levels of risk. Making a public statement about Morgan is riskier than having a private conversation with two studio owners:

  • Morgan is more likely to sue you and more likely to win a lawsuit.
  • Morgan is more likely to retaliate against you (and perhaps against their past victims).
  • You are more likely to generate conflict in your community.

2. Pick your battles

Once you understand the situation, you can decide how to proceed. Your decision should be based on how much time and energy you can invest, how much risk you’re willing to take on, and how important each goal is to you. In this case, there are three reasonable strategies:

Go all in

Make a public statement about Morgan and talk to the studio owners about them. This is the most time-consuming and risky strategy, but it most comprehensively addresses all your goals.

Focus on stopping Morgan from teaching

You may decide that stopping Morgan from teaching in person accomplishes your most important goals and is safer and more feasible than making a public statement. Focus on talking with the studio owners.

Do nothing

It is completely legitimate to decide that this is a fight you aren’t able or willing to take on.

Are you liable for any harm Morgan causes if you don’t take action to prevent it? Probably not in most cases, unless you are directly involved (for example, if you hire Morgan to teach a class and they injure someone in that class). But as always, you should consult a lawyer if you aren’t sure.

3. Focus!

Once you’ve picked your goals, focus relentlessly on them. If your goal is to stop Morgan from teaching dangerous yoga classes, focus on that.

If you also happen to feel that Morgan plays distracting music during classes, let it go. Bringing up peripheral issues dilutes your message, makes you look petty and vindictive, and creates additional areas for Morgan’s lawyer to attack.

If you’re aware of two serious, well-substantiated injuries in Morgan’s classes and one alleged injury, focus on the two clear-cut incidents.

Victory comes from focus.


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