Many times we focus on the more visible factors related to productivity, but how many mistakes could we erase and how much time could we save with candor? Research by NASA in the 1980s found that “take-charge” pilots made incorrect decisions much more often than pilots who included their crews, even in as little as a 45 second time frame. Healthcare studies concluded that a nurse would only speak up 8% of the time when a doctor was not following the proper hygienic protocol while conducting medical procedures. Efforts that require just your team are 80% more likely to succeed than those requiring cross-team collaboration. Most people would rather stay silent then provide criticism to a co-worker leading to frustration, water cooler conversations, gossip and/or passive aggression. For others the outcome becomes yelling and public berating. Some of these situations could arise in a moment’s notice and likely become emotional, putting you at an even bigger disadvantage. Your body uncontrollably gets ready for “fight” or “flight”. It releases adrenaline and pumps blood to your arms and legs while sacrificing blood to your brain, making the promise of a constructive conversation that more difficult.
Figure 1: The Candor Inc. Radical Candor Quadrant
So what can we do? Kim Scott, co-founder of Candor, Inc., tells us that we need to operate in the “Radical Candor” quadrant (see Figure 1 above) where we directly challenge, but at the same time care for the person we are talking to. It is much easier to give and receive feedback when you feel that the other person cares for you as a person. Many of us can conjure up a vision where we would react completely different to the same message from two separate people. The book “Crucial Conversations” advises if we sense that the other person is not feeling safe with the conversation, then we must step out of the conversation and build safety before continuing. After establishing safety, you identify what you would like as an outcome of the discussion and lead with the facts. Listen and concentrate on the desired outcome and not on winning. The way the message is delivered is important and goes to creating safety. Too many jerks deliver the message inappropriately and then say “I tell it like it is”, thinking this gives them carte blanche to be obnoxious. They are certainly not creating safety with that tact. The flip side of the coin is “sugar coating” the message. If you “sugar coat” the message then many times the recipient will not catch your meaning or gravity of the situation.
If you recognize the benefits of conducting candid and crucial conversations then start with yourself and dig into the available information out there on the topic. We’ll make a lot of progress and save a lot of time with proper candor.