How to Respond After Someone Calls You Out in Public

AngryI was called out in public today. And I thought, “I should write a blog about this tonight.”

I was at work, and had just gotten off a phone call wherein I successfully got an irritable, annoyed, angry person to laugh, joke, and be more open to buying our product. Anyone who’s ever done sales knows the magnitude of such an event.

Still, my boss, the greatest salesman who ever darkened the doors of my building, came down on me like Thor’s hammer that I didn’t sell her right then and there. He scolded me in front of my team, and had me repeat what I did wrong.

After the whole scenario, I realized that we typically respond to being called out in public in a few predictable ways:

1. Silent, livid resentment wherein we can hardly choke back the crazed vengeance dripping from our mouths

2. Utter denial, complete disbelief that such an ignoramus would accuse us of any fault

3. Passive aggression, where we outwardly agree that we are wrong yet inwardly hope our accuser will die from some poison.

How do you want to respond? How to do you want to handle being called out in public? You could employ any of these methods, and probably feel pretty good. The angriest gossip and the crudest slander is born from being called out in public. But will that satisfy you?

Yes. For now. But you will pay the cost of perpetuating a deadly, insidious cycle of never taking accountability for your actions, and never truly growing into something great.

Instead, you can choose to take a look at yourself. You may not be entirely in the wrong, but we are so rarely entirely in the right, one wonders if we’re ever right at all. So what? Being right isn’t as important and getting better.

So yeah. I was pissed. I was livid. And I silently resented my boss for a greater chunk of the day than I’d care to admit. I don’t think I was entirely in wrong, but instead of wasting precious hours of my day dreaming of sentencing my boss to eternal condemnation for embarrassing me, I was able to practice responding positively when someone called me out in public.

What advice would you give to someone who struggles with being called out?

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  • 20somethings in 2014

    Your post brings up an interesting point: not just how to respond to criticism but also how to give criticism. The way your boss criticized you makes it sound like his motive wasn’t making you a better salesperson – it was humiliating you and making you feel badly about what you did. If your boss criticized you in a polite and professional manner, I’m sure you would’ve felt less defensive and more motivated to improve.

    • Anthony Moore

      Well, I have to admit, I’m probably pretty biased in the whole situation, heh. But you’re right – receiving criticism is hard enough, but nearly impossible when it’s given in a demeaning, hurtful manner.

      How to you recommend to give criticism in a way that will be received effectively?

      • 20somethings in 2014

        Be polite and courteous. Don’t try to embarrass or hurt the person you’re criticizing.