Reward Your Friends When They Call You Out

Don't give them a gift card, but make it easy for them to help you grow.

No one really likes getting called out, nor should they. On my second home of Twitter, it’s happened to me a thankfully small number of times, and it feels very much like spilling your drink on the table at a large table in a restaurant.

The heart rate increases, you get flushed, you feel embarassed and you try to keep the conversation moving until you get back to normal. ‘Callout Culture’ is most certainly a thing on social media, and it’s the great indulgence of social media. You get a rush of emotions and dopamine from correcting someone who is Wrong On The Internet, it’s like the sugary indulgence of social media. Something to be best avoided but is very tempting even to the most level headed of people.

Real life callouts are another matter entirely, especially among friends. Despite the fact that such events are highly dependent on the friend, and friend group, there are nonetheless some elements that I think are consistent. I like to think most cohesive friend groups (those that manage to stay together without too much drama) are compromised of good people who like to get along with each other. This has a bit of a downside, in that when someone does go over the line, it’s very tempting to just let it go because they’re mostly ‘good’.

Trapped inside as many of us are, I’ve spent more time immersed in online social gatherings than usual, which is somewhat where I found myself prior to my Cinderella story of breaking into the cannabis industry. As such, my misbehaviour mostly concerns inconsequential social media drama, the details of which aren’t important here. What is important, however, is that some new friends did call me out and I’m immensely thankful for it.

The reward I mention in the title of this piece is rewarding your friends by making it easier for them to call you out. Sometimes the ‘mostly good’, or ‘high-functioning’ people can make it very hard to give them some tough love (myself very much included). When you make it difficult, your friends are less likely to take the chance that you’ll have an adverse reaction and will probably be more inclined to just let things go, which isn’t really helpful for either you or them.

It can certainly be very hard for people who don’t often receive critique to properly integrate it, and I think part of the way it was put to me made a very powerful impression (and was really the impetus for writing this). It was put to me that pre-occupation with social power structures signals a few things to friends (most of them not complementary), the most striking of which was that ‘your friends know they need to be careful around you’. The very nature of that observation (which I think is very true) is opposite to offering critique of someone, and I’m glad the friend in question chose to ignore that contradiction.

I had known this person for a relatively short amount of time, which I think definitely made it easier for them to say it. I think that the longer our relationship with someone, the more likely we are to ‘look the other way’, often to the detriment of the relationship. Small things can become big things, and eventually ‘looking the other way’ leads to disassociation. Sometimes this is inevitable, but sometimes we are given one or two opportunities to show our friends that we appreciate them when they make themselves and their relationship to us vulnerable.

We also make ourselves vulnerable in accepting that critique, in lowering the many layers of self-defense we may have created against ill-intentioned attacks on our beliefs and character. When I think about which relationships struck up recently have lasted and which ones haven’t, which ones might be subject to the ‘false intimacy’ trap, vulnerability seems to be the key deciding factor. One way to thank your friends is to appreciate them when they make themselves vulnerable, and to return the favour.

So, reward your friends by thanking them (thank you, Claire). Reward them by being vulnerable with them, and appreciating it when they are vulnerable with you. I also think the relationships that last the longest and are the most fulfilling are those that we regard as an opportunity for growth and change, rather than resting on the laurels of the past. Making it easy for your friends to help you grow and change is probably worth 1000 self-help seminars.