Radical Candor Podcast

If It’s Yellow Let It Mellow 5 | 13

On this episode of the Radical Candor podcast, Kim, Jason and Amy discuss the difference between feedback and nitpicking. Kim says, “There is one rule of thumb that applies to criticism in general but is especially good advice when you’re really busy and nerves are frayed. It’s best summed up by advice a friend’s godfather gave her at her wedding. ‘If it’s brown flush it down. If it’s yellow let it mellow.’ She got married on an island with a poor septic system, and this was a sign by all the toilets. But as her godfather said, ‘These are words to live by. If there’s a big stinking problem talk about it before it fouls your relationship. But if it’s a small thing, let it go.'”

Listen to the episode:

Radical Candor Podcast Episode At a Glance

Radical Candor is not an invitation to nitpick. Challenging people directly takes real energy— not only from the people you’re challenging but from you as well. So do it only for things that really matter. A good rule of thumb for any relationship is to leave three unimportant things unsaid each day.

Nitpicking: This is a term that was first used in 1956 (according to Merriam-Webster) to refer to the practice of giving too much attention to unimportant details — especially as a way of criticizing. The word originated from the act of fastidiously removing nits — the eggs of lice — from hair, a practice that takes an enormous amount of attention to detail.

What’s the difference between giving immediate feedback and nitpicking? If it’s not important, don’t say it right away or at all.

Legitimate feedback is helpful. Nitpicking is not helpful and can cause more stress.

@dannyserene They were the worst and were always lazy ! #worklife #managersbelike #toxicemployee #nitpicking #toxicmanagers #foodindustry #foryoupage #fypage #toxicworkenvironment #managerstories #greenscreen ♬ original sound – Danny Serene

Examples: Constantly pointing out trivial annoyances. Expressing excessive irritation about irrelevant details. Fussing over minor, unimportant things.  

  • On page 10 of the report, I noticed you used the word “compassionate” twice. You should have looked for another word instead of repeating yourself. 
  • I noticed you used a landscape image in your presentation instead of a portrait on page 137. Even though the client seemed to like it, you know I prefer portraits.

Radical Candor Podcast Checklist

Radical Candor Podcast Team


  1. Praise is important to paint a picture of what’s possible and show everyone what good work looks like. Pay attention to the stuff you really appreciate instead of focusing on unimportant details. Remember, focus on the good stuff and give specific and sincere praise!
  2.  If you’re on the receiving end of nitpicking, let the other person know how you’re experiencing their feedback. Often just naming it will help guide the person in the right direction. If not, ask for someone else’s perspective.
  3. If you’re wondering whether or not you’re feedback has ventured into nitpicking, plug it into our CORE/CORN framework to make sure you are offering the Context, Your Observation, the Result and the nExt stEps. If your feedback isn’t CORE and it’s not kind and clear, it may be an unimportant thing that can be left unsaid.

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Improvising Radical Candor, a partnership between Radical Candor and Second City Works, introduces 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.

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Radical Candor podcastThe Radical Candor Podcast is based on the book Radical Candor: Be A Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott.

Episodes are written and produced by Brandi Neal with script editing by Amy Sandler. The show features Radical Candor co-founders Kim Scott and Jason Rosoff and is hosted by Amy Sandler. Nick Carissimi is our audio engineer.

The Radical Candor Podcast theme music was composed by Cliff Goldmacher. Order his book: The Reason For The Rhymes: Mastering the Seven Essential Skills of Innovation by Learning to Write Songs.


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