Speak with 'Radical Candor'
Several business colleagues recommended Kim Scott’s “Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss without Losing Your Humanity” to me in recent months.
As is often the case with many life situations, learning a lesson in one area can also provide other benefits in other areas.
The lessons from Scott’s book can be transferred from nurturing business relationships with radical candor to speaking with radical candor in all relationships.
Let me explain. I made many of the mistakes about which Scott writes – both at work, at home, and with friends – and you likely have as well. Perhaps you can relate to her opening story about how she, as an owner and boss, accepted subpar work from an employee, never told him how bad it was, and continued to cover for him each time he turned it in. Others at her work followed her lead and also covered for him. She built up resentment toward the employee and other people in her office also started to turn in poor work. Eventually, it became unbearable for everyone at the business. So, she took him to coffee, told him how bad his work was, and fired him. His response, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Why not indeed?
Here’s why, as she explains it: “It’s brutally hard to tell people when they are screwing up. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings; that’s because you’re not a sadist. You don’t want that person or the rest of the team to think you’re a jerk. Plus, you’ve been told since you learned to talk, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’”
I’ve made this mistake at work, but I’ve also made it at home with family and with friends. Have you? Instead of accepting behavior we don’t like and stewing about it, all we really need to do is speak honestly about it.
The good news - Scott explains how to be radically candid without being obnoxiously aggressive, ruinously empathetic or manipulatively insincere.
My fallback behavior is ruinously empathetic. What’s yours? Are you obnoxiously aggressive and turn people away? Or perhaps your fallback is to be manipulatively insincere? A manipulative insincere style may get you what you want in the short term, but it certainly does create a relationship based on mutual trust.
I used to be an avoider, and still slip back into the ruinously empathetic mode from time to time. I have learned, though, that wishing things to get better, rarely make them so. As Scott’s employee’s reactions shows, we need to take action – to talk to people with the candor they deserve and desire.
I don’t always speak with radical candor at work, at home, or with my friends. But the new sign posted to my refrigerator – “Speak with Radical Candor” – is leading me in the right direction. Why not give it a try?
You can pick up a copy of Scott’s book at the Daniel Island branch of the Berkeley County Library, or download it to your device from their website.
Suzanne Detar’s book -- Don’t Lose the Ball in the Lights and Other Life Lessons from Sports -- is available for purchase at Island Expressions, 126 Seven Farms Dr., and online in print and as an ePub at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play and iBooks. Learn more at www.SuzanneDetar.com.