Radical Candor Examples to Help You Be More Candid

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Radical Candor" by Kim Scott. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want to know what radical candor looks like in real life? What are some examples of radical candor?

Radical candor examples show what it looks like when you care personally and challenge directly. Building and maintaining radical candor requires effort for yourself and your team.

Keep reading for radical candor examples for feedback, self-care, and communication.

Radical Candor Examples

Radical candor’s components of caring personally and challenging directly are essential to giving good, sincere feedback—which naturally contributes to trusting relationships with your reports. Radically candid guidance usually includes both praise and criticism together in order to demonstrate that you care enough to want to boost your employee’s confidence, and that you care enough to show them the ways they can be better. Here are some examples of radical candor in feedback.

Praise from a place of radical candor is very specific to the recipient—when you’re acting with radical candor, you should be attuned to how your praise is landing with your recipient and be prepared to change it if it’s not quite right. For example, imagine that you have an obvious dislike for dogs and say to your employee, “I think it’s really cool that you foster dogs.” Your praise will feel insincere and forced. Instead, try praise such as, “I admire how much work you put into training your foster dogs and matching them to the right homes. You’re so driven at work as well, so it’s not surprising.”

Criticism from a place of radical candor is always sincere, and is given both when things go poorly and when things go well. For example, Sheryl Sandberg once gave Scott radically candid feedback about her speaking style at Facebook. After a stellar presentation, she pulled Scott aside to talk. She started with praise for Scott’s persuasion skills, and then noted that Scott used the word “um” too much. She frankly explained that overuse of “um” was undermining Scott’s credibility, and set her up with a speech therapist to address the issue.

Building Trust With Self-Care

Don’t think of your two lives separately, as a work-life balance. Self-care is one of the Radical Candor examples of what you need to build a trusting environment. Work-life balance implies that energy that’s put into your work is sapped from your life, and vice versa. Instead, think more in terms of integrating the two—you bring your whole self to work, and your whole self goes home at the end of the day. For example, if staying centered requires that you spend 30 minutes meditating every morning, this isn’t time that’s “taken away” from your focus on work. It allows you to bring a more grounded self to work. Likewise, if you feel excited and energized about a work project, feel free to talk about it at home and share your vision with your spouse. 

Schedule Self-Care Time

Self-care doesn’t feel as urgent or important as your bigger work tasks, so it’s likely to get bumped to the bottom of your priority list. To avoid this, schedule self-care time into your day like you would schedule anything else for work, and show up for it. For example, if you always blow off exercising in the morning, put it into your calendar and commit to it as you would with any other scheduled meeting.

Find and Practice Your Self-Care Method

It’s important to find your own self-care method. Whatever your self-care method is, it should be prioritized when you’re faced with tough situations—but you need to check in and make sure it’s not your highest priority. For example, if you’re tasked with laying off several members of your team, it’s okay to have a weekend getaway for some space to think. It’s not okay to abandon work commitments for a last-minute 4-day weekend, or to distract yourself from the task by shopping around for flights and hotels while you’re on the clock.

Radical Candor Examples About Team Building and Communication

These Radical Candor examples encourage caution with team bonding activities. When social events are organized by management, people can feel forced into taking part in them—this chips away at the “autonomy” that you’re trying to demonstrate in the organization. When organizing an event, remember to read the room. Ask yourself if you might be pressuring your employees into a situation that they’re not comfortable with, either implicitly or explicitly. You might feel that a non-mandatory event doesn’t feel like a burden, but keep in mind that employees feel a great deal of social pressure when it comes to events their boss is putting on—they’ll attend out of fear of missing out on an opportunity to show you their commitment. 

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your team—and what shows them that you’re really paying attention to their needs—is not scheduling an event at all, instead letting them go home. For example, setting up a fun outing to help everyone relax at the end of a 70-hour week is well-intended, but most of your employees would prefer to go home and rest.

Take a break if you need to: If you’re truly uncomfortable with someone’s emotional reaction, instead of telling them how to feel or ignoring them, you can take some space for yourself. For example, you could say, “I’m sorry you’re so angry about the way that presentation went. I’m going to grab you a cup of coffee and I’ll be back in a few minutes.” If you’re still feeling uncomfortable after your break, give yourself some space. You can say, “I’d like to press pause on this conversation. I know it’s important to you, so we will come back to it, but I can’t have this conversation right now.” Be forgiving to yourself for needing space, but recognize the importance of coming back to the conversation when you’re ready—your employee needs to see that you’re good on your word when it comes to addressing issues that are important to them.

Radical Candor Examples to Help You Be More Candid

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  • How you have to be direct with people while also caring sincerely for them
  • Why relationships are an essential part of successful leadership
  • How to create a strong team culture that delivers better results

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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