Recently when traveling to visit my daughter at college, I read an article about the concept of radical candor and how leaders can use this principle to deal with employees, helping them and the company grow.
This prompted me to reflect on this topic and relate it to my leadership role in various settings: as a mental health counselor and supervisor of rising therapists, as a corporate leader, and as a mother. I wondered, how effectively and kindly do I communicate with the people I serve as a leader?
A common struggle I hear from clients is how to be helpful to other people, whether it is a friend, family member, colleague or supervisee. Often, we may tell others what to do (giving unsolicited and possibly unwelcome advice), not say anything at all, or blurt out something, sometimes resulting in regret or self-doubt.
3 healthy ways of sharing feedback and advice
The first way is to NOT share it. This may seem obvious but it isn’t always. Your judgement may be obscured by the deep need to impart your wisdom on others. However, not everyone wants advice or feedback and may feel insulted or annoyed, even if they respond politely. So before you automatically share your advice, ask if the other person would like your input.
The second healthy way to give advice is using the concept of Radical Candor™. Candor, Inc. co-founder Kim Scott says radical candor comes from a combination of caring personally and challenging directly, and that we have a moral obligation to tell others when they’ve made a mistake.
When communicating with children, marriage and family therapist intern Laura MacRae-Serpa says that words can become weapons, and suggests that you carefully consider delivery (how you speak), relationship (does the child know you’re coming from a place of love?) and self-regulation (are your emotions out of control?) when deciding whether to tell a white lie or to speak with candor.
The third healthy way to give advice is something I often talk about in sessions with clients. Before giving feedback, check in with yourself as to your motive for wanting to share. Be honest. Do you want to show much you know, or do you sincerely want to be helpful?
If you have a genuine motive of service, then do your best to speak with kindness and compassion, and be humble. We are all human beings; no one is above or below us — we are all the same. Another aspect of humility is to let go of whether or not your advice is taken.
Once you go through this process a few times and and it starts to feel right within yourself, you can let go of self-doubt or regret. Regret is just a defense to keep us from feeling something more important such as sadness, fear, or even hurt.
Do you ever feel uncomfortable giving feedback to people? Is it any different at work versus at home, or with adults versus with children?