What to Do When You’re Called Out

called out

Today’s big idea is that at some point in your life, especially now that racism and unconscious bias have been made more evident and more spoken about. No matter what race you are, you are likely to be called out for some mis-step. Maybe you mis-pronounce someone’s name and that person corrects you. Or maybe someone uses the word racist to describe something you did. Let’s talk about how to handle that so that it becomes a growth opportunity, and not a moment of shame or anger. 

Listen to the Podcast Here

First off, let’s make this clear:

Being called out is not an accusation of intending to cause harm. You are not being singled out. Your unconscious bias is simply being pointed out. We all have these, so it’s not anything to feel ashamed of. It’s your programming being made visible. 

Of course, even though being called out is not a personal attack, your nervous system will likely register it as one. It is totally natural to have a stress response. Your throat may tighten, your cheeks might flush. Your breath might falter, your jaw might clench. If you notice any of these reactions, or even if you don’t, take a breath, as breathing is the fastest way to short-circuit the stress response. Remind yourself that while you’re lizard brain may be shouting something like, “They think you’re a bad person!” you are not being accused of being a bad person. Just an unaware person. 

This is the moment to tap into your deeper wisdom and recognize that what this is is an invitation to do better

And since you’re listening to a podcast called How to Be a Better Person, clearly you care about that. Even taking one breath before you say anything is long enough for you to rein in your lizard brain at least a bit. 

And then, once you’ve taken that breath, you can say something like,

“I hadn’t thought about it that way, thank you for pointing it out.”


“I see. I value your point of view.”

Then apologize,

“I’m sorry I did that and for any harm I might have caused.”

And then the all important,

“I will do better in the future. Or, it won’t happen again.”

This is NOT the time to do ANY of the following:

  • fall over yourself apologizing
  • talk about how much you love black people and how you have black friends 
  • try to exonerate yourself
  • get personally offended and insist you’re not racist
  • cry or otherwise react in some way that makes it feel like YOU are the one who needs to be comforted
  • ask the person who’s calling you out to explain why what you said was offensive

This is probably the 300,000th time that person has endured a micro-aggression. They are tired. They’ve done enough. This is likely the first time you’ve had something you’ve said or done pointed out to you–you have the energy to do your own research about why what you said or did was wrong, later. God bless the internet for this!

And remember:

This person believes you can do better, otherwise they wouldn’t bother. I shared this quote in Tuesday’s episode from Maryam Hasnaa, “Accountability is a love language.” Remind yourself of that as many times as you need to to get through to your lizard brain that this was actually an act of love. 

Daily Tiny Assignment

Your tiny assignment is to practice saying out-loud:

“I hadn’t thought about it that way, thank you for pointing it out. I’m sorry for any harm I caused, it won’t happen again.”

So that when you get called out–and really, it’s not if, it’s when, as we all make mis-steps, you’ll have rehearsed what to do and you’ll be more much likely to take it in stride. 


Want to be a better person, but don’t know where to start?

My new daily podcast, How to Be a Better Person, is here to help by sharing one simple thing you can do in the next 24 hours to rise. My mission? To help you live your best life.

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