Radical Candor: How to Challenge People without Being a Jerk

Radical Candor made simple: an intro guide.

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Pic by evencake — licensed via AdobePhoto

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”
— Harvey S. Firestone

Feedback is the best gift we can get. Without other people’s perspectives and input, we can’t uncover our blind spots and grow

What is Radical Candor?

Radical Candor means challenging people directly while also showing that you care about them personally.

Is Radical Candor the same thing as brutal honesty?

Nope. Brutal honesty is about getting everything out of the system without caring about others. We end doing more harm than good.

What are the four types of feedback?

Radical Candor uses a 2x2 to explain the four types of feedback. One axis is Challenge Directly, and the other is Care Personally.

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Why is Radical Candor important?

There’s a feedback gap. We are often too soft or too indirect in the way we provide feedback.

Is it possible to be completely honest without hurting someone’s feelings?

Probably not. Every person is different, and it’s hard to anticipate emotional reactions.

How can I practice Radical Candor?

Just do it. Don’t overthink it. Give people actionable, immediate, and constructive input on how they can improve performance.

Do I need to care personally?

Authenticity is often an overlooked element when giving feedback. Showing that you care is important. But pretending to be authentic when you are not will backfire.

How to create a culture of radical candor?

Take baby steps. Start slow to go fast. Only 1/3 of people think their opinions count at work. There’s a lot of distrust and fear. Creating a candid culture takes time.

What reactions should I watch out for?

Feedback can trigger both positive and negative reactions. It could become an obstacle rather a growth accelerator.

What are the dangers of Radical Candor?

One of the temptations with Radical Candor is to use it as an excuse to give direct, harsh feedback without neither providing context nor caring.

Written by

I help teams and organizations build fearless cultures. Creator of the Culture Design Canvas. Insights → bit.ly/ChangeInsights

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