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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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Criticism & Ruinous Empathy

When bosses care too much about hurting their employees’ feelings, they will avoid giving criticism. Eventually, it becomes too late to fix this Ruinously Empathetic situation. Here’s an example: Bob joined Kim’s team at Juice with glowing references, an amazing career at two of the world’s greatest technology companies, and a quirky, charming personality. There was just one problem: Bob’s work was terrible. After a few weeks of working diligently, he finally made a presentation that was essentially a “jargon…

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Tips to Avoid Ruinously Empathetic Praise

If you think you've given praise that was Ruinously Empathetic, check out these tips for moving towards Radical Candor! Praise Specifically Just saying “good job” is not helpful, and saying, “you are great” can actually be counterproductive. If somebody has rated your praise as Ruinously Empathetic, you’re not challenging them enough. Try being specific enough to show how to build on the success. Your job is not to be a cheerleader It’s to offer praise that shows exactly what was great…

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Hit Me With Your Best Shot

We've all been taught since we were kids, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." But now in the workplace, we need to hear when things aren't going well. We need people to tell us how we can do better, to go against this training they've gotten since they were babies. Luckily, thanks to Pat Benatar, we've got the perfect chorus to inspire someone to move out of Ruinous Empathy and bump up their Direct Challenges. ...…

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Video: You Have Spinach in Your Teeth

If you’re already familiar with the Radical Candor framework, you know that we’ve labeled the axes “Challenge Directly” and “Care Personally”. Radically Candid praise and criticism is high on both of those axes. We also sometimes call them the “Willing to piss people off” and “Give a damn” axes. To really understand how this plays out in each of the quadrants, it‘s helpful to walk through a real-life scenario. Let’s imagine you have spinach in your teeth. How would people…

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Ruinous Empathy is a Waste of Your Time

Hi there - I'm Russ, and this is my first blog post for Candor, Incorporated. My Little League baseball players call me Coach Russ, and I'm going to run with that in this and future posts. Enough of the intros, let's get into it. I'll admit it. In adulthood, I've always had a problem with some of the disingenuous phrases that serve as social lubrication. For example, it drives me crazy when someone says, "Let's get together sometime, I'll set…

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