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Huey Lewis on Soliciting Radical Candor

A number of people have written in asking for advice on reacting to and soliciting feedback from their boss. The short answer is, try to make it easy for them to say what they’re really thinking.

I am in the process of writing a much longer response to the question of how to ask for feedback in our advice column, but on the way to work this morning I realized Huey Lewis probably said it better and faster than I ever will. Granted, he was talking about his girlfriend not his boss, but it’s surprisingly relevant.

It’s worth reading the words:
Girl don’t lie
Just to save my feelings
Girl don’t cry
And tell me nothing’s wrong
Girl don’t try
To make up phony reasons
I’d rather leave
Than never believe
If this is it
Please let me know
If this ain’t love
You’d better let me go
If this is it
I want to know
If this ain’t love, baby
Just say so

Of course, when you’re soliciting feedback, you’re generally not trying to encourage your boss to fire you, so the whole breakup/ “you’d better let me go” metaphor is overly ominous–though in extreme cases it might apply.

But here’s my rewrite of the song to make it more about fixing problems than getting fired 🙂

Boss, don’t lie
Just to save my feelings
Boss don’t lie
And tell me nothing’s wrong
Boss don’t try
To make up phony reasons
I can fix it
If you tell me what’s wrong
If this is bad
Please let me know
If this ain’t good
You’d better tell me so
If this is bad
I want to know
If this ain’t good, boss
Just say so

We will give you more detailed advice next week. Soliciting feedback from your boss is a tricky thing to do…and a heavy topic for Friday. So just enjoy the song for now.

Happy weekend!

Kim Scott

Kim Scott is the author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss without Losing your Humanity and the co-founder of Radical Candor LLC. A former CEO coach for several tech companies, including Dropbox, Qualtrics and Twitter, she has also managed a pediatric clinic in Kosovo and started a diamond cutting factory in Moscow. In addition to Radical Candor, she is the author of three novels and the forthcoming leadership book Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & Fair, available March 16, 2021 from St. Martin’s Press.