What We Learned About Radical Candor From Kim Scott

“It’s such a simple idea, radical candor, but if you all can put it into practice, not only will you do the best work of your lives, more importantly, from my perspective, you’ll form the best relationships of your career,” Kim told us.

Here’s what else we learned:

It all started with a puppy

Kim’s initial brush with the concept took place in the time it took a streetlight to change from red to green. Her beloved golden retriever ran in front of a cab, and a man approached her and said, “I can see you really love that dog.”

“But,” he said, “you’re going to kill that dog if you don’t teach her to sit.” With that, he commanded the dog to sit, and she did. Kim looked at the man in amazement, and he said, “It’s not mean. It’s clear.”

“And then the light changed, and he walked off, leaving me with words to live by,” Kim says.

Radical candor means to care personally and challenge directly at the same time

In other words, it’s the ability to give feedback while also giving a damn about the person you’re saying it to. The reason this feels so unnatural is because many of us have been taught, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” But if you’re an employee (or maybe a boss), that can sometimes be your job.

You may also have been told to act professional, which usually translates into leaving your humanity at home. To build strong relationships, though, you have to bring your best self to work.

And there’s a helpful guide about how to do exactly that

If you’re ever unsure how to interact with someone—or to gauge praise or criticism—this handy 2×2 feedback framework is a tool you can use. “We all make all these mistakes all the time,” Kim says. “What I want you to do is to use this framework like a compass to help you guide the conversations that you have with people to a more positive place.”

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