Calling In & Calling Out

Conversation Guide

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We hear stories about people who are self-censoring because they fear their viewpoints are unwelcome
and they fear being “called out” — as racist, as leftist, as sexist, ableist, RINO (Republican in Name Only),
woke, snowflake, hypocrite, disloyal, soft…. Is there a way to draw attention to concerns in a way that isn’t
aggressive or shaming? The practice of calling in is a critical tool if we want to move to a place where we
can hold and express foundational as well as evolving beliefs. This guide is designed to explore where
these competing practices have popped up in our lives and better understand where, when, and why we
feel compelled to call others out or call others in.

Background Information:

Definitions for this conversation
  • Calling Out- letting someone know their words or actions are problematic in a public way that leans into shame
  • Calling In- letting someone know their words or actions are problematic in a more private way that encourages them to think, consider another experience, or be part of a solution
** We recognize these terms originated within Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and anti-racism work, this guide is applying them to political dialogue. For further background information check out this recent UpSwell Panel featuring Dr. Ross: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o25ifFnHCck

Let's Get Started!

Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-6 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share, learn, and be curious. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate. 

Introductions:
Why We're Here (~10 min)

Each participant has 1 minute to introduce themselves.

Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.

Conversation Agreements:
How We'll Engage (~5 min)

These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)

  • Be curious and listen to understand.
  • Show respect and suspend judgment. 
  • Note any common ground as well as any differences. 
  • Be authentic and welcome that from others. 
  • Be purposeful and to the point. 
  • Own and guide the conversation. 

Question Rounds:
What We’ll Talk About

Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.

Round 1:
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)

Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:

  • What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are?
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?

Round 2:

Calling In & Calling Out (~40 min)

One participant can volunteer to read the paragraph at the top of the web page.


Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. After everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring additional questions as time allows..

  • When do you call someone out and when do you call someone in? When do you refrain from calling someone out or in?How do you make this choice?
  • Have you called someone in? Or experienced being called in? Describe the experience.
  • Have you called someone out? Or experienced being called out? Describe the experience.
  • What is your goal when you call someone in? What is your goal when you call someone out?
  • Have you ever held back a comment or question, for fear of being called out? What happened?

Round 3:
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)

Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:

  • What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
  • What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
  • How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group?
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation?

Closing (~5 min)

  • Give us feedback! Find our feedback form here.
  • Donate! Make more of these possible; give here.
  • Join or host more conversations! With a) this group by exchanging your emails; b) others in person and/or by video call online. Get more involved or learn how to host here.

Thank You!