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How to Call Someone In
“Calling in is not a guarantee that everyone will joyfully work together. It is simply the extension of grace, the opportunity to grow and to share learning and responsibility for each other.” --Dr. Loretta Ross
Calling out has become a common way of holding individuals accountable for harmful actions, such as sexist or racist comments. This kind of direct and usually public intervention can be a powerful way of reinforcing what's acceptable and what's not. However, calling someone out may not always be the most effective way to get them to change their behaviour. Sometimes a personal conversation about the negative impacts their words or actions may be preferrable. By calling someone in, you're modeling empathy and respect and helping the person expand their awareness and sensitivity.
When to call someone in
- When the person is potentially unaware of the negative impacts of their words or actions
- When you’re invested in your relationship with them and don’t want to publicly shame them
- When you care about them enough to help them understand why their behaviour is harmful or problematic
How to call someone in
Check in with yourself first. Calling someone in is emotional labour. Do you have the emotional capacity to engage in this process? Is there someone else who could help?
Determine the best method of communication and the best timing for this intervention.
Accept that the conversation may be uncomfortable for both people involved.
Prepare by jotting down some points or practicing aloud what you might say.
Start from a place of empathy and curiosity, instead of judgment and blame.
Identify the specific words or actions and explain why they were hurtful or oppressive. Separate the actions from the person.
Use open-ended questions to invite the person to explore the meaning and impact of their behaviour. For some examples, check out this resource.
Give the person space and time to process your feedback.
- Offer to continue the conversation and/or to provide additional resources if they want to learm more.
- Practice self-care and seek support if you need it.
How to learn more
These are some of our favourite resources about calling in:
Calling In: A Quick Guide on When and How
Interrupting Bias: Calling Out vs Calling In
Speaking Up Without Tearing Down