For Those Who Have A Complicated Relationship With Feedback
Sara Ismail-Beigi Bartlett speaks with guests about their ideas, perspectives, and best practices regarding feedback. For some, this process can be alarming, but it is essential and a key basis for improvement.
In this episode Sara shares a bite with us, Radical Candor. This is a newer concept developed in 2017 by Kim Scott, and is the idea of providing feedback to advance people towards growth. The primary aspects of Radical Candor are challenging directly and caring personally. The goal is to provide specific, clear and concise feedback that helps guide them along and be successful in their role.
Welcome to Business Bites. My name is Sara. This is the podcast for busy professionals who want the quick hits of business terminology, historical context, and strategies for integration. This week, we're going to be talking about Radical Candor.
Radical candor is a concept that was developed by Kim Scott in 2017 and has a lot of details and information that you can access as it's one of these newer concepts that we're adopting. Radical candor is the idea around providing feedback to individuals along a two by two spectrum. When providing feedback, we can think about not only caring personally about that individual but also challenging them directly with that feedback.
There are four different areas that Kim's work talks about when we're thinking about feedback. If we are in a specific place where we are challenging someone directly and caring personally, that's her definition of radical candor. It's a space where we can provide people with specific, clear, and concise feedback that helps guide them along, that helps provide them that insight that they need to be successful in their role.
If we only provide them challenge, so that's challenging directly but not caring personally, that's what she calls obnoxious aggression. That's where we're providing brutal honesty for someone. And it's in a way front-stabbing them, rather than backstabbing them. It's providing feedback in such a direct way that the person isn't ready to hear it, and again, we're focusing on that person's perception. We might feel like we care personally, but if they're not seeing it, it will look like we are just an aggressor.
On the flip side, if we are someone who's demonstrating care personally but we're not challenging that person directly, Kim calls that ruinous empathy. What that means is we are sparing that person's short-term feelings in the best interests of ourselves, not providing that feedback that they need, it's maybe not present, not specific, it might be unclear, and again, leading with care rather than challenge. And that empathy is ruinous in that impact because it's not actually providing the feedback that they need to be able to improve.
Now let's say you do neither. You neither demonstrate that you care personally or that you want to challenge that person directly. This is passive aggressiveness and backstabbing and what Kim calls manipulative insincerity. When we are not showing individuals that we care about them personally and we're not even willing to challenge them directly to provide them that feedback, we are showing them that their behavior might need work, but we're not going to be the ones to tell them. And that's where backstabbing comes in, and as I mentioned earlier, that passive aggressiveness.
As I've talked through each of these, you can see that there are opportunities for us to do both caring personally and challenging directly. If we want to move people towards growth. If we only sit in the space of, again, that ruinous empathy where we're not challenging folks, but we are caring for them, people will be unaware of the change that they need to make, which doesn't support their growth and development. If again, on the opposite side we did the obnoxious aggression where we are challenging folks but we're not demonstrating that we care for them personally, people are going to get defensive, right? I challenge directly, I'm going to get that challenge back. And that is also going to provide little change to their behavior over time.
On that opposite end, we talked about the manipulative insincerity. That's going to breed distrust. If I don't actually tell you what's going on and I don't show that I care about you, I'm also not going to make a change in my behavior. Because again, I'm not getting that directly from you and I'm not getting the sense that you care about me. Operating in a space of radical candor is the opportunity to really see growth with individuals and see that change over time by, again, pushing them with that direct challenge, but also demonstrating that we care by providing clear, kind, and sincere feedback that is specific and objective.
This has been Sara with Business Bites. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you on what other terminology that you'd like bite-sized. As always, give us a quick rating on your platform of choice and share this podcast with a friend. We'll see you next time.