The Radicality of Saying What You Think

How often do you say what you think; not a filtered generalization or rough summary of your thoughts, but an EXACT verbal manifestation of what enters your conscious mind? I stumbled on a video about a year ago that shifted my thinking on this question in which Kim Scott discusses the powerfully simple idea of Radical Candor (worth the 20 mins. in my opinion).

While Scott’s work centers on how Radical Candor can be used by corporate leadership (specifically bosses), it’s clear that her simple ideas are applicable to a much broader swath of humanity. And while you can take a deep dive (which I subsequently did) into her new book or a variety of other resources now available through Candor, Inc., the beauty of Radical Candor is undoubtedly in its simplicity. Study the following 2x2 graphic for about 60 seconds and I think you’ll grasp the general premise behind her work.

I believe that within all interpersonal interactions there lies opportunities to both care personally and challenge directly. Unfortunately, we often choose to neglect one or the other (or most tragically, both). Scott’s work illuminates a slippery slope that we’ve all likely fallen victim to when communicating. When we focus on caring, it’s often difficult to truly challenge someone directly, and when we directly challenge, true benevolence is all too often absent.

Though this work (currently) is situated firmly in the corporeal, I think there’s also immense potential in exploring its broader implications for those of us spending an increasingly disproportionate distribution of time in the online/digital world. Online anonymity coupled with neoliberalism has spawned a dangerous new degree of polarity. Direct and damaging hate-speech has become the common language of online comment streams, and there’s a simultaneous evolution of back-patters who view any direct challenge as eternally damaging to their inner-psyche. Radical Candor represents a simple formula whose underlying principles, if adopted widely, could pull the edges of humanity back towards a healthy center where we all care personally, challenge directly, and just say what we fucking think.


Anyone looking for a deeper dive, join me for a Twitter chat this Thursday, December 8 at 7pm MST. Follow #pedagome or link up with them on Twitter for details.