In U.S. culture, we are told “if you see something, say something.” When we see something that is wrong, we are taught to speak up and address the problem. When it comes to personal behaviors surrounding how we act and speak, it is common to approach others with the mindset that we must call out behavior that is oppressive or discriminatory in order to correct the problem. Calling out someone by directly challenging something they’ve said or done can be powerful at drawing attention to problematic behavior. It lets a person know they’re doing something wrong, and it lets others know not to behave similarly.
A different approach that goes against what we’ve typically been taught about dismantling oppressive language and behavior is the practice of calling in rather than calling out problematic behaviors and language.
When addressing issues of inclusion, the phrase calling in refers to “the act of checking your peers and getting them to change problematic behavior by explaining their misstep with compassion and patience” (). This can be a powerful tool for addressing bigotry and oppressive behavior, especially among people you know, trust, and want to help to hold accountable for their behaviors. It allows us to address destructive behaviors while spurring positive changes and mutual accountability in a less reactionary manner than calling out. Rather than just being about getting someone to stop their behavior, as is the case with calling out, calling in seeks to help folks understand why their behavior/words/attitude are harmful.
offers three questions to ask yourself when determining whether to address someone’s behaviors by calling them out or calling them in:
1. What are their intentions?
2. What’s best for you?
3. What do you want to get out of it?
Here are some resources that can help you learn how to call someone in, and when a situation might be best managed with this tactic:
·– YouTube video from Project Rockit
·– online magazine article from Everyday Feminism
·– online magazine article from Bustle
· Is There a Difference Between “Calling In” And “Calling Out”? – online article from Dictionary.com