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Radical Candor 101

What is Radical Candor?

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.

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What does it mean to Care Personally?

It’s about giving a damn, sharing more than just your work self, and encouraging everyone who reports to you to do the same. It’s not enough to care only about people’s ability to perform a job. To have a good relationship, you have to care about each of the people who work for you as human beings.

The first step to Caring Personally is deciding that your job is to enable the success of your team. It means you put their needs first, above yours. Caring Personally, more than anything else, is about listening to people. Of course, listen to their hopes, their fears, their dreams, but also listen to their ideas for improving the team, the work, the environment. All the answers are there from your team; you just have to ask.

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What does it mean to Challenge Directly?

This involves telling people when their work isn’t good enough — and when it is; when they are not going to get that new role they wanted, or when you’re going to hire a new boss instead of promoting them; when the results don’t justify further investment in what they’re working on. Delivering hard feedback, making tough calls about who does what on a team, and holding a high bar for results — isn’t that the job of any manager?

But most people struggle with doing these things. Challenging people generally pisses them off, and that doesn’t seem like a good way to build a relationship or to show that you Care Personally. And yet challenging people is often the best way to show them that you care when you’re the boss.

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What is the goal of Radical Candor?

When you create a culture of guidance, you create a team that embodies the Radical Candor ethos of Caring Personally and Challenging Directly. This builds trust and opens the door for the kind of communication that helps you achieve results collaboratively that you could never achieve individually.

When people enjoy their work and their colleagues more, you get better results.

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Is Radical Candor the same thing as brutal honesty?

No! There is a world of difference between Radical Candor and brutal honesty, or as we call it, Obnoxious Aggression.

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What is Obnoxious Aggression?

Obnoxious Aggression™ is what happens when you challenge someone directly, but don’t care about them personally. It’s being clear, but not kind; praise that doesn’t feel sincere or criticism that isn’t delivered kindly. Obnoxious Aggression is also called “brutal honesty” or “front stabbing.”

Unfortunately, some confuse Radical Candor with Obnoxious Aggression — for example, in HBO’s Silicon Valley. And Dilbert, who mistakes Radical Candor for Obnoxious Aggression.

“Radical Candor is not a license to be gratuitously harsh or to ‘front-stab.’ It’s not Radical Candor just because you begin with the words, ‘Let me be radically candid with you.’ If you follow that phrase with words like, ‘You are a liar and I don’t trust you,’ you’ve just acted like a garden-variety jerk. It’s not Radical Candor if you don’t show that you Care Personally.” — Kim Scott

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What is Ruinous Empathy?

Ruinous Empathy™ is “nice” but ultimately unhelpful or even damaging. It’s what happens when you care about someone personally, but fail to challenge them directly. It’s praise that isn’t specific enough to help the person understand what was good, or criticism that is sugar-coated and unclear.

Ruinous Empathy is seeing somebody with their fly down, but, not wanting to embarrass them, saying nothing, with the result that 15 more people see them with their fly down — more embarrassing for them. So, not so “nice” after all.

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What is Manipulative Insincerity?

Manipulative Insincerity™ is what happens when you neither Care Personally nor Challenge Directly. It’s praise that is non-specific and insincere, or criticism that is neither clear nor kind. It’s the kind of backstabbing, political, passive aggressive behavior that might be fun to tell stories about but makes for a toxic workplace, ruining relationships and ruining work.

People give praise and criticism that is manipulatively insincere when they are too focused on being liked or they think they can gain some sort of political advantage by being fake, or when they are too tired to care or argue any more.

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What kind of services does Radical Candor offer?

We deliver keynotes and workshops around the world, providing an opportunity for teams to try out real-life scenarios and put Radical Candor into practice. Our workshops are designed to help teams build more caring and candid relationships at work, developing high-performing cultures based on trust and collaboration.

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Where has Radical Candor been delivered?

Hundreds of organizations have hosted Radical Candor talks and workshops: giant global corporations like Eaton Industrial Management Systems in Ohio and Schindler Elevator in Switzerland; growth companies like Qualtrics, a survey company in Utah; Nubank, a fintech startup in Brazil; MiQ, a marketing intelligence firm in India and New York City; and LuLuLemon in Canada; a number of financial institutions, from private equity firms to American bulge bracket banks and Royal Bank of Canada; non-profits like St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and assisted living facilities throughout the US; and small businesses like book stores and hair salons. It’s even spread to the public sector, from the the LA Fire Department to the US Government Accountability Office, to public school systems like Colorado’s St. Vrain Valley School District.

In 2018, Radical Candor was delivered in:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • India
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
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Company & Services

What is the goal of Radical Candor?

When you create a culture of guidance, you create a team that embodies the Radical Candor ethos of Caring Personally and Challenging Directly. This builds trust and opens the door for the kind of communication that helps you achieve results collaboratively that you could never achieve individually.

When people enjoy their work and their colleagues more, you get better results.

Share
What is Radical Candor LLC?

Radical Candor, LLC is an executive education company based on Kim Scott’s best-selling book, Radical Candor: How to be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity. Radical Candor, LLC was founded in 2017 by Kim Scott and Jason Rosoff, Radical Candor CEO.

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What kind of services does Radical Candor offer?

We deliver keynotes and workshops around the world, providing an opportunity for teams to try out real-life scenarios and put Radical Candor into practice. Our workshops are designed to help teams build more caring and candid relationships at work, developing high-performing cultures based on trust and collaboration.

Share
Where has Radical Candor been delivered?

Hundreds of organizations have hosted Radical Candor talks and workshops: giant global corporations like Eaton Industrial Management Systems in Ohio and Schindler Elevator in Switzerland; growth companies like Qualtrics, a survey company in Utah; Nubank, a fintech startup in Brazil; MiQ, a marketing intelligence firm in India and New York City; and LuLuLemon in Canada; a number of financial institutions, from private equity firms to American bulge bracket banks and Royal Bank of Canada; non-profits like St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and assisted living facilities throughout the US; and small businesses like book stores and hair salons. It’s even spread to the public sector, from the the LA Fire Department to the US Government Accountability Office, to public school systems like Colorado’s St. Vrain Valley School District.

In 2018, Radical Candor was delivered in:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • India
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
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