Calling Someone Out – When & How


In my experience, it is always better to coach, correct, or call someone out in private, but in closed-door meetings where crucial decisions may be on the table, sometimes a “call-out” cannot be avoided and may even go a long way. Here are some guidelines you may want to consider.

The first thing is quickly evaluate whether the issue might better be addressed in private, but if not, make sure your calling someone out is not and cannot be construed as a personal attack. Focus upon what was said or done, and not the person. It is your job to gain the desired result and not defeat, destroy, and embarrass the other person. Next recognize that by “calling someone out” you are instantly going to put the person on the defensive where they may either attack back or retreat and never again contribute. You could likewise threaten everyone. Treat the other person with value and not as an adversary.

The third thing keep focused upon is your common mission, and stand for integrity and honesty. This is an exercise in dignity, keeping yours and honoring everyone else’s. Can your group grow by this and take the most appropriate actions?

Preface your remarks with a polite, “Is it ok if I call you out on that?” By asking permission rather than just assuming a commanding pontification, the other’s defenses and walls come come down – as will their allies. You might even preface your statement with some compliments or good points of the recipient before you launch. A proper “call-out” should never be about winning or disgracing someone, but keeping everyone engaged in the mission with not only creativity, but commitment. A great idea is to actually have a “Calling Out Document” that allows everyone to begin the process, be civilized and on the same page, and play by the same rules.

Be honest. If someone has let you or the group down, share with them that impact, but do so in a positive, uplifting way. Notice how you are communicating and observe how the message is being received. And never under any circumstances get sucked into any heated discussions.

Used sparingly and carefully under the right circumstances, the properly executed “call out” can really be effective to both you and your group.


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