Getting the Most out of Mistakes: Radical Candour

Radical Candour is one of those new catchphrases in management. The technique is not new. We all have feelings and want to say what we are thinking to people we care about. However, in professional contexts we often refrain from saying what we truly think. We do this to avoid hurt feelings or avoid creating conflict. But this habit can lead to not providing critical feedback even when it is important.

The Radical Candour movement/catchphrase was popularized by Kim Scott. This video gives a great introduction to the framework of radical candour:

While many of the examples and advice is geared towards leaders, I think this applies to educators too, particularly in business or corporate environments.

As Scott discusses, there is an intersection between caring personally about another person and challenging them directly. Too much on any one side can lead to the avoidance or too much critical feedback.

I really like this framework. And it makes sense! Think of those times one of our best friends sits you down and offers you some hard life advice. Those can often be more meaningful and lead to more positive actions. This framework captures this with it’s emphasis on caring personally.

I can think of many times in my professional career where I have either been surprised by feedback I would have loved sooner or I myself have avoided giving this feedback. It is frustrating! And its UNFAIR. One of the things that Kim Scott points out that I LOVE is that it is our moral obligation to offer this feedback when we have it.

This is valuable to learning too. If we do not offer critical feedback, our students do not have the opportunity to improve. To do this we need to challenge them directly. Additionally, the critical feedback will be heard and digested better if we can demonstrate that we care personally about their success or failure. Together, this demonstrates that we are invested in their learning, which in turn ought to be mirrored on their learners end.


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