Explain, Reassure, Divert tool

This is a simple tool to help when you are out in public or with people you don’t know.

Although it can be annoying or upsetting, it is good to remember that most people are not trying to hurt your feelings. Most people stare, comment or ask questions because they are curious. People often look longer than usual without knowing they are doing this. People might look or turn away because they are surprised or unsure how to act. People ask questions to try to understand. Even people who make comments may be (badly) trying to find out more. Only a few people are being mean.

Helping yourself, and them, to understand may make some of these things a little less difficult. Changing Faces uses: EXPLAIN – REASSURE – DIVERT


To yourself: Explain to yourself why something happened

Eg: “This person is curious about me. That is why they are staring”. “He has probably not seen my condition before.” “This comment is unkind but that is their problem, not mine.”

To the other person: Explain your condition to the other person, to help them understand

Eg: “It’s just a scar”, “I have something called vitiligo” or “My face is different, but I am just the same as anyone else.”

Now write down your own EXPLAIN phrases in a notebook


Yourself: Reassure yourself to help you feel ok

Eg: “I am ok.” or “This person does not mean to ignore me – they are looking away because they don’t know what to say.”

The other person: Reassure the other person by giving them more information

Eg: “It doesn’t hurt”, “I am fine with it” or “It’s ok, I’ve had it all my life.”

Now write down your own REASSURE phrases in a notebook


Yourself: Find other things to focus on in a difficult situation, so you do not think only about the bad things. What else is going on? Think about other things that make you feel good or say a nice phrase to yourself

Eg: Think about something you enjoy or your family or your pet. Count how many people are wearing red. Think about what you want to do for your birthday. Read a book or look at your phone.

The other person: Divert the other person away from talking about things that you are not comfortable with by talking about something else

Eg: “I love the chips here, don’t you?” or “What is your favourite book / film” or “Do you like football?”

Now write down your own DIVERT phrases in a notebook


Try practicing in these situations. Write down your thoughts…

You’re at the cinema. A new boy in your group stares at you as you arrive.
What would you say to yourself to EXPLAIN?
What might you say to him to EXPLAIN?

You’re in the park – a little girl asks you if it hurts.
What would you say to yourself to REASSURE yourself?
What might you say to REASSURE her?

A bunch of kids start giggling behind you… you worry they are laughing at you.
What would you say to yourself to DIVERT yourself away from this?
What might you say to DIVERT them?

It is up to you what you do or say in any of these situations, but it is good to know you have something ready. You might also like to look at the Preparing responses tool, the 3-2-1 Go tool or the Suit of armour tool

Suit of armour tool


3-2-1 Go tool


More people are using Changing Faces services than ever before. We want to be here for everyone affected by with a mark, scar or condition that makes them look different.

We’ve made all our services, factsheets and information free for everyone. It takes time and money to do this, but we think it is really important.

That’s why I hope you’ll understand why we need to ask for your help. If you’ve found our website or services helpful, and your circumstances allow, then please consider donating. Every penny counts and you can give at www.changingfaces.org.uk/donate Thank you.