At our recent Meetup for Career Women in Tech, we went around and talked about recent challenges we were facing that we might want to tackle as a future topic.

One woman raised her hand and said, “I would like help talking with my boss.”

Wow. Now there is a topic that needs airtime.

It’s hard to talk to your boss. It’s hard to talk to peers. It’s hard to talk with subordinates.

Especially when the topic is sensitive like asking for a raise, delivering bad news about someone’s performance or telling someone they are being laid off. Or when you know you should challenge your boss or a client/customer about a process or direction they are moving in that you think might have flaws.

This might not be easy but when you get comfortable delivering hard news you would be amazed at how much better you feel about you and how much stronger your relationships will be.

Using Radical Candor to Empower Your Communication Style

Coincidentally, the following week, I was listening to one of my favorite online marketing podcasters (Amy Porterfield) and she mentioned that she and her team were reading a book called Radical Candor by Kim Scott. Though Kim talks about how to better communicate in order to be a better boss, her advice is just as relevant to you being a better employee, peer, friend, spouse, parent…or pet owner (you’ll have to listen to her You Tube video to understand this reference).

How you communicate determines the genuineness of a relationship. Having strong communication skills means your team knows what is expected of them, your boss knows where you stand, your ideas have a better chance of being heard and executed upon and problems can be averted.

What Type Of Communicator Are You?

Kim uses the following graph to show the 4 quadrants of Communication.

  1. Obnoxious Aggression-you are high on challenging directly but low on caring personally. Basically, the bully.
  2. Manipulative Insincerity-Low on caring personally and low on challenging directly. You say nice things that you don’t really mean. The back-stabber.
  3. The Ruinous Empath. This is often where women fall. You are high on caring about people but low on being willing to challenge directly. I call this person the Sugar-coater. Very sincere with praise but not someone who is giving you straight scoop. They have thoughts that would be helpful to you in your career, but they worry that telling you would hurt your feelings, or you would not like them anymore, so they hold back. And then you are surprised when something comes back to bite you in a future review that was obvious to others, but no one had the courage or caring to speak up.
  4. The aim is to be communicating with Radical Candor-that combination of Caring Personally about someone and at the same time Challenging Directly their thoughts, ideas and ways of doing things as necessary…and allowing others to do the same with you.

Radical candor is a powerful relationship building tool. It is also a practical way to talk with your boss…and your spouse and your friends and your employees. One thing to keep in mind is that you should not personalize or label the person. It is not the person that is the problem it is an action.

Example of using Radical Candor: I can see you really like (your job, this role, managing people) but if X doesn’t change you are very likely going to experience X. I would hate to see that happen. Can I help?

Helping someone you care about improve themselves is a gift. Receiving that gift can be challenging but less so when real caring and a desire for someone’s success is understood.

Try This:

    • Sit down with a friend, or if you feel comfortable, your boss, and have a Radical Candor session.
    • Agree first about your mutual respect and caring for each other. Share praise.
    • Then ask for the person to give you 1 form of feedback that they think is limiting you in moving forward in your career or life.
    • Take in the feedback. Do not defend or argue. You can decide for yourself how much truth you believe there is in their statement. You can ask for more details or you can ask for ways you might change in order to improve.
    • Thank them.

Let me be candid. You need a sounding board. You need someone to get you moving forward. You know you want more in 2020 and you need to start now!