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Bystander effect Examples from Corporate Life

‘United we stand, divide we fall’ a very prominent saying that applies to all of us while handling tough situations and stay as a team. This helps us understand the problems, overcome the shortcomings, and be strong. But, does the same apply to taking initiations in say, a meeting? The bystander effect is around that only:

A phenomenon where people tend to avoid taking decisions, initiations in a meeting or help a needy person when a large group of people is available to take such a step.

The more the number of people, the lesser the likeliness of a needy person get the required.


Examples of Bystander Effect

If you can recollect from daily life examples:

• After a road accident, you can observe everyone looking at each other to help the sufferer

• In a meeting, you can see everyone waiting for others to answer a question asked by the presenter

But, why do you think this happens? The reasons are many.

  1. Hesitation- This is the most common reason. Not everyone can take initiative or say so much confidence or dare.

  2. Fear of failure- The risk takers are given a title because it is a quality of some We often are afraid of the consequences, and any failure after openly talking about the issue in front of everyone can draw criticism

  3. Misjudgment- People tend to think that we are showing-off even when we want to help the needy wholeheartedly. As a result, many of them back-off to avoid such comments and perceptions.

  4. No Returns- Some people offer help when they see some benefit for themselves. If they don’t see any benefit, they back-off and look for ways to avoid such situations.

How to avoid the Bystander effect?


We do not realize it, but a situation like a bystander is an opportunity to stand out or to offer great help. Consciously or unconsciously we might not be able to help others, but this really is the place to be the initiator, and exhibit our leadership skills

Whatever the reason is, this effect is what differentiates leaders from followers. Leaders look at this as an opportunity to help the needy. They are aware of such psychological effects, stay conscious and take lead, even when others hesitate to initiate.


Keeping all this in mind, a few things you can do to avoid the bystander effect-

  • Do not bother about the result and focus only on helping the needy.

  • Even in a meeting, make sure you are actively participating in a discussion and not waiting for others to talk about their views. In fact, once you start, there is a good chance that others would be motivated by your gestures and start providing their views too.

  • As a leader, make sure you are making your team members aware of such a phenomenon. Taking out names during discussions, rather than raising a point openly, help people become more conscious, leading to taking initiations. This way, the response rate from the team members can significantly improve.

  • Further, make sure the team members are not facing the brunt when their genuine attempts fail.

  • When the team environment is amicable and devoid of criticism, everyone will feel encouraged to put their points, ultimately improving the team’s performance.

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