Follow the ARC to Get Clarity In Any Situation

In a previous post, I talked about how the ARC Method can be useful when you’re in a situation and overhear an inappropriate or potentially harassing comment. The ARC Method can be used to gently call someone out from a place of curiosity, not confrontation.

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The ARC Method can also be used in any situation in which you are looking for clarity. Remember, it’s always better to ask, rather than assume. But, how do you ask?

In the workplace, a perfect example is if you have a coworker who has come out as non-binary and “they-them” and perhaps you’re not quite sure what that means (although it’s not Sam, or any other under-represented person’s job to educate you - but that’s another post for another day…). Let’s take this situation through the ARC. Again, as with the other ARC, context and tone matter! Approach with curiosity, not confrontation!

A is for Ask. In this situation, you are asking questions of your non-binary coworker, Sam. Here are some sample ways to ask for more clarity:

  • “Can you tell me more about which pronouns I should be using now?”

  • “I promise to do my best but it might take me a minute to get the hang of this. How would you feel if I mess up at first?

  • “Do you mind if we chat about this a second? Can you direct me towards a good resource to educate myself about non-binary people?”

R is for Respect. Just as in the previous approach to ARC, respect means that you actively listen, don’t dismiss the answer, and don’t interrupt.

Finally, the C is for Connect. In this case as in the previous ARC, you will be paraphrasing and validating. Here are some conversation starters or ways that you can connect to complete the ARC in the example with your coworker Sam.

  • “OK, just so I’m clear, I’ll be using they-them pronouns for you going forward? Got it!”

  • “So I understand you correctly, I should do my best but you’ll be patient? Thank you!”

  • “Perfect, thanks for letting me know that I should check out the Equality Institute.”

Then MOVE ON! No need to drag out the conversation, although if you need more clarity, go for another round of the ARC. Continue to ARC until you feel like you have the clarity you need to move forward positively.