Radical Candor™ is the ability to Challenge Directly and show you Care Personally at the same time. Radical Candor will help you and all the people you work with do the best work of your lives and build the best relationships of your career.
Radical Candor really just means saying what you think while also giving a damn about the person you’re saying it to. Why is it so rare that such a simple thing feels radical?
Why Radical Candor is an “unnatural act”
Two nearly universal experiences make Radical Candor unnatural. One, most people have been told since they learned to talk some version of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” When they become a boss, the very thing they have been taught not to do since they were 18 months old is suddenly their job.
Furthermore, most people, since they got their first job, have been told to be “professional.” Too often, that’s code for leaving your humanity at home. But to build strong relationships, you have to Care Personally. You have to bring your whole self to work.
Making the unnatural feel more natural
Because Radical Candor is an “unnatural act” we developed a framework that would be simple enough that you can keep it top of mind in the heat of the moment. This 2×2 is a tool that you can use to guide your interactions and to help you gauge feedback — praise and criticism.
One of the best ways to make Radical Candor easier is to remember what happens when you fail to Care Personally and Challenge Directly. We’ve named the quadrants colorfully to help you remember to move toward Radical Candor, but it’s key to remember that these are not labels for people; they refer to a particular interaction or behavior. Ultimately, everyone spends some time in each of the quadrants, and that’s ok.
Obnoxious Aggression™ is what happens when you challenge but don’t care. It’s praise that doesn’t feel sincere or criticism that isn’t delivered kindly.
Ruinous Empathy™ is what happens when you care but don’t challenge. It’s praise that isn’t specific enough to help the person understand what was good or criticism that is sugarcoated and unclear.
Manipulative Insincerity™ is what happens when you neither care nor challenge. It’s praise that is non-specific and insincere or criticism that is neither clear nor kind.