Last week I spoke with a gentleman who owns several thriving businesses. Buying and growing businesses is his strength, and building a strong team around him to take the reins of each business comes to him with ease. My guess was that he had done a great deal of personal development work and it was clearly paying off in his professional success.
I asked him about his experience with coaches and leadership programs. He told me about the investment he made in multiple Tony Robbins events, about an incredible coach he worked with for 16 years who recently passed away and about his current involvement in a peer-to-peer entrepreneurship group. He told me about how much time he spends coaching and mentoring his employees and that coaching others is one of the keys to his own personal development. He also told me about how the more he expands spiritually, the more his businesses grow too.
I was impressed―I felt like I was talking to someone who was seriously evolved.
“What is your greatest challenge right now?” I asked him.
“My wife and her hormones,” he responded. “She is going through menopause right now and it’s making me crazy.”
I have to admit, that took me by surprise. It did not seem to match the calm, relaxed, peaceful and self-aware demeanor that he exhibited when he spoke about his businesses.
“Tell me more,” I urged him.
“She is out of control! Her moods are up and down and I can’t keep up. She goes from 0 to 100 in ten seconds — with the kids, with her mom and even with me.”
I was curious, “What do you do when she gets that way?”
“Here’s the thing. Six months ago, we made an agreement — she promised to go see a homeopath to find some kind of treatment — but she never went. So last week I called her out on her integrity. I told her that she was being selfish.”
I could feel my body retract in response to his approach. “How did she react to that?”
“She called me an a**hole.”
Not at all surprised with that outcome, I offered him some coaching…
“Here’s what happens when you call someone out… you are specifically holding up a mirror to them and pointing out their flaws. And the image you are holding up is less than ideal. As a means of self-protection, that person has one of two reactions: flight or fight. In this case, your wife chose to fight back — which is a fairly healthy choice in a marriage. The question is… did calling her out lead to an outcome you were hoping for?”
“Not at all.”
“It never does. Calling someone out throws them far away from the vision of their wellbeing and success — it takes them (and you) in the complete opposite direction.”
“So how do I get her to go to a homeopath?”
“You don’t. It’s not your job to ‘get her’ to do anything.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Your wife doesn’t WANT to go from 0–100 in ten seconds. She doesn’t WANT to lose it with the people she loves and she doesn’t WANT to feel the way she does. What she DOES WANT is to feel better. Calling her selfish does not lead her towards feeling better, it leads her to feeling worse — and we can see that she is fighting that feeling fiercely. Rather than calling her out, your job is to see the best in her even when her behavior is less than ideal, and to remind her how awesome she is, and how she could be feeling should she choose to get some help.”
He understood how his strategy, while filled with good intention, led him to a result he did not want — an angry and resentful wife.
I find it interesting that ‘calling someone out’ has recently become an act of courage and something to applaud. In work environments, we see colleagues calling one another out for poor behavior, poor performance or failing to keep a promise that was made. Unfortunately, calling someone out does not ultimately lead to desired outcomes.
Calling someone out creates two problems:
1) It creates a rift between the one who is doing the calling out and the one who is being called out. Even if the rift is short-lived, the dent in the relationship results in a period of time when the person who is being called out needs to self-protect and preserve their identity. They do so by either lashing out or withdrawing.
2) It triggers an internal sense of cognitive dissonance for the person that has been called out that reduces development and growth. A person can only accelerate to a better place when they feel OK about the place they are at. If they feel bad about themselves, their progress slows. If they feel ‘out of integrity’ — they become powerless. A person cannot achieve great goals when they feel bad about themselves, nor can they be an awesome partner.
Think about it. Have you ever been ‘called out’? How did it feel? Did it make you want to jump up and wrap your arms around the person calling you out and thank them profusely? Probably not.
More importantly, think about what you were trying to achieve when you’ve called someone out in the past. Did that strategy lead to the outcomes you were seeking? Did it lead to a more intimate and connected relationship? Did it lead to a condition where you had greater influence and impact? Or did it cause some friction — even silently in the air between you?
If there is someone in your life who is driving you crazy and triggers the urge in you to call them out, pause before making that move. Ask yourself what other options you have. Think about how you can hold up a mirror to their best self and show it to them. If that’s challenging for you to do, reach out — my email address is email@example.com — I’d be happy to set up some time for us to talk!