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It’s Not Radical Candor If You Don’t Care Personally

What makes Radical Candor radical is that it’s a deviation from the norm, which tends to fall somewhere between acting like a jerk and avoiding confrontation altogether. The purpose of Radical Candor is to create a new normal where guidance is both kind and clear, not to reinforce bad behavior. This means that if you don’t Care Personally about the person you’re delivering feedback to, you’re exhibiting Obnoxious Aggression, not Radical Candor. Ever since the book Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss…

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Ruinous Empathy and Recruiting, A Story

Seven years ago, before launching Femgineer and having Kim Scott on FemgineerTV, I had to make my first sales hire for my second startup, BizeeBee. I had never hired a salesperson before. Most of my hiring experience had been with technical folks such as engineers, designers, and product managers. I just figured it would be the same. Find someone who is capable, comes with good references, and then give them some time to ramp up. I decided to hire Adam. Adam…

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Video: A Ruinous Empathy Story

Kim shares a story about a time that she describes as the worst moment of her career. She learns a hard lesson after being Ruinously Empathetic with one of her employees for a period of several months. Although she Cares Personally and tries to be "nice," her lack of Direct Challenges causes issues for her, for the employee, and for her whole team. Watch her story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN0DQRqmQNs Listen to episode 4 of the Radical Candor podcast to hear Kim and Russ discuss this story…

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Video: A Ruinous Empathy Story

Have you ever held back from saying what you really thought at work because you didn't want to hurt someone's feelings? Have you seen something that needed improvement but didn't tell the person, figuring they would realize and fix it on their own? If you said yes to either of these questions, you may be exhibiting Ruinous Empathy. But don't despair! So many of us have made these mistakes. We care about the people we work with, and we don't want…

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Video: A Ruinous Empathy Story

Stephanie Usry cared personally about her co-worker -- she was one of her best friends! Because of this, Stephanie found herself in a tricky situation. She was so focused on showing that she Cared Personally that she missed the opportunity to help her friend by giving a Direct Challenge. Her story is a reminder why it's important to Challenge Directly, especially when you care about someone. Watch the video of her story to find out what happened. https://youtu.be/FJF-NwwnGvk More stories about Ruinous Empathy

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Video: A Ruinous Empathy Story

Many of us struggle with Ruinous Empathy. We want to build and maintain relationships with people, so we don't want to say things that upset them. But if you focus too much on caring personally and don't offer directly challenges when you see something that isn't right, it can lead to far worse outcomes. Reading and listening to stories about Ruinous Empathy will help you understand that others have the same struggles that you have. Hearing how these situations turned out…

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Praise And Ruinous Empathy

Praise & Ruinous Empathy

Praise can be Ruinously Empathetic when bosses try to be “nice” and get things wrong. Below are a few cautionary tales of how trying to make a person feel good without taking the time to understand the details of their work to challenge them appropriately can go astray. Wrong assessment Perhaps the most famous example of praise gone wrong was when Bush said on national television to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during Hurricane Katrina: “Heck…

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Video Tip: Move away from Ruinous Empathy

Do you think your feedback is often Ruinously Empathetic? If so, you're not alone. In our experience, most feedback mistakes fall in the Ruinous Empathy quadrant. People tend to back down from their Direct Challenge because they want to be "nice." But don't despair, we've got advice for moving away from Ruinous Empathy and towards Radical Candor. Listen to a story and a simple piece of advice in this video of Kim answering an audience question at Slack HQ earlier this year: https://youtu.be/_XQBxPy3Ah4 There's…

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Tips to Avoid Ruinously Empathetic Criticism

If you think you've given criticism that was Ruinously Empathetic, check out these tips for moving towards Radical Candor! Criticize clearly Don’t try to spare people’s feelings by leaving out the details — that is not nice, it’s just unclear. If others have rated your criticism as Ruinously Empathetic, you’re not Challenging Directly enough. Try clearly explaining what you think directly to them. Just say it! When you don’t say it, you rob the person of a chance to fix…

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How Can I Stop My Ruinous Empathy?

For those of you who are familiar with our Radical Candor framework, you’ll remember that Ruinous Empathy is in the upper left. High Care Personally, low Challenge Directly. It categorizes behavior in which someone is trying to be “nice” in an effort to spare people’s feelings -- by not saying what needs to be said, by lying, or by just offering a verbal pat on the back. People whose behaviors fall in this quadrant often recognize it right away when…

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