Practicing Radical Candor: "It's not mean, it's clear"

By Gretchen Fauske, Associate Director

Radical Candor Framework via

Radical Candor Framework via

Team CED recently watched INBOUND Bold Talks: Kim Scott "Radical Candor" and we thought it was worth sharing with all of you! If you have an extra 15 minutes, watch it for yourself. If you don’t, here’s a summary:

Kim Scott opens by asking all of us to “be more than just professional”  which she elaborates as not leaving our personality and our humanity out of our work. Those are the best parts of us; instead, bring your whole self to work. 

Then she goes on to describe the Radical Candor concept, which begins with two axes: 

  1. Care Personally (aka the “give a damn” axis)

  2. Challenge Directly (aka the “willing to piss people off” axis)

From there Kim discusses each quadrant (again, if you have time, watch the video - she shares an illuminating anecdote for each quadrant and is an engaging public speaker):

  • Radical Candor - when you care personally and can challenge directly: “It’s not mean, it’s clear”

  • Obnoxious Aggression - when you challenge but don’t care

  • Ruinous Empathy - when you care so much about someone you fail to challenge them

  • Manipulative Insincerity - when you don’t care and you don’t challenge

She says that we shouldn’t use these terms to start categorizing others and ourselves, and that we all make all of these mistakes all the time. Instead,  we should judge conversations instead of people. By using the radical candor concept, we allow ourselves challenge others and be challenged in return. 

Practicing radical candor will help all of us build strong relationships at work, and beyond. If you want to dig in further, Kim wrote a book, Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss without Losing your Humanity. We haven’t read it yet, but it’s on our (very long) reading list!