*This article about creating a culture of listening is part of our new series about…
Radical Candor is what happens when you show someone that you Care Personally while you Challenge Directly, without being aggressive or insincere. Radical Candor really just means saying what you think while also giving a damn about the person you’re saying it to.
Radically Candid praise and criticism both include caring and a challenge. Let’s start with praise. In order to make sure your praise tells the other person what was good and shows them what to do more of, use the four-step CORE method.
C — Context (Cite the specific situation.)
O — Observation (Describe what was said or done.)
R — Result (What is the most meaningful consequence to you and to them?)
E — nExt stEps (What are the expected next steps?)
For example, CORE praise that includes both caring and a challenge looks like this.
“I asked you to help us be more efficient (context), you went above and beyond by implementing Slack (observation), the team is spending less time on email but more time communicating, which allows us to get more done in less time (result). We’d love for you to explore other tools that can help streamline communication in the office. (nExt stEps).”
5 Things to Remember About Praise
- Just like criticism, praise can be awkward; but it’s important to know what we do well and should continue doing.
- We need to push through our discomfort with praise, especially when praising others requires us to recognize our own failures.
- Being specific and sincere is a real relationship-building opportunity. It helps people feel seen and appreciated while also getting a new perspective on their work. These moments act like deposits into the relationship bank.
- Praise includes a challenge as well as caring; the challenge for praise can be simply for that person to continue doing what they did well, or it could be to take that experience to a new project. Or teach what they did to others!
- Finally, praise in public. Public praise allows not only the recipient to know what to do more of, but also the rest of the team.
Practice Giving CORE Praise
Write yourself a praise note using CORE. Remember to be specific and sincere. Wait, what? Give myself some praise? Yep. Care Personally + Challenge Directly starts with you.
We meant it when we said, focus on the good stuff! If you want to give someone else praise, remember it takes practice. Use the CORE framework to think through praise you can give others and provide it on a weekly basis.
Make Your Criticism Kind, Clear & Hip
Radically Candid Criticism is HIP. Being kind means caring about what’s best for the person long-term, not just what feels easiest right now. Being clear means leaving no room for interpretation about what you really think — while also being open to the possibility that your opinion is wrong. We call this HIP feedback.
Humble: It is important to walk into a feedback conversation with a sense of humility, knowing that your point of view is an important piece of a larger puzzle. Speak from your point of view, but leave space for them as well.
Helpful: Consider the goal of the conversation. Are you having it to win, or are you having it to help? Make sure your goal is to help the other person succeed, otherwise it’s not helpful.
Immediate: Give feedback immediately, or as close to immediately as possible. When you wait too long, you can get caught up in debating details versus immediately nipping something in the bud.
In Person or On Video: If you have feedback conversations over the phone or email, you lose much if not all of your ability to get a sense of how your words are landing, as well as an opportunity to hear the full extent of the other person’s experience.
In Private: The part of your brain that interprets physical threats is the same part that activates when you feel a threat to your identity or ego. If you criticize someone in public, chances are they will go into fight, flight, freeze mode and be unable to take in what we are saying.
Not About Personality: Make sure to focus on the behavior, not the person. For example, would you respond better to someone giving you feedback about the need to show up to work on time, or would you prefer that they give you the feedback by calling you lazy?
Radically Candid Criticism is Kind & Clear to the CORE
When providing criticism, the most important thing is to be humble and helpful. You may be wrong, and you want the other person to tell you if you are. Communicate your intent to be helpful as clearly as you communicate the feedback itself.
Have the conversation in private and in person so you can pay attention to the other person’s body language. If you can’t meet in person, the next best option is video. Just like when you’re breaking up with someone, we beg of you, don’t have these conversations in text, over email… and especially not in Slap.
To make sure you’re not criticizing someone’s personality when delivering criticism, you can follow the CORE framework:
Here’s some helpful criticism that Kim Scott received from her boss: “After the meeting when I told you that you said ‘um’ a lot and recommended a speech coach,” (context), “you made a brush-off gesture” (observation). “This makes me feel like you weren’t hearing me and won’t go to the speech coach I’m recommending, which would be a shame because if you stop saying um so much you’ll be more effective” (result). “Go to the damn speech coach! (nExt stEps)”
Practice Your Skills
Think about a time where someone gave you a piece of criticism that you are grateful for. How did it feel to get it? What did they do that made the experience successful? What would have happened had you not received that feedback?
Need help practicing Radical Candor? Then you need The Feedback Loop (think Groundhog Day meets The Office), a 5-episode workplace comedy series starring David Alan Grier that brings to life Radical Candor’s simple framework for navigating candid conversations.
You’ll get an hour of hilarious content about a team whose feedback fails are costing them business; improv-inspired exercises to teach everyone the skills they need to work better together, and after-episode action plans you can put into practice immediately to up your helpful feedback EQ.
We’re offering Radical Candor readers 10% off the self-paced e-course. Follow this link and enter the promo code FEEDBACK at checkout.