Radical Candor


2 min read

graph showing radical candor with 2 axes involving the level of challenge and care

Over the past year, I have learned a lot during my 1-on-1 meetings with my manager—what to look out for when interviewing a candidate, how to work during company changes (ownership handoffs & layoffs), and even how to create a resume with real-world experience! (probably shouldn’t have asked for resume help in my first 1 on 1 though 😅)

Recently, though, I learned a framework for uncomfortable growth from my manager while trying to go to the next level in our meetings.

After googling “What to ask during a 1-on-1” several minutes before my 1 on 1, I found an article, “The Art of the Awkward 1:1”, in a Reddit thread and was inspired (as most people who find quality content on Reddit feel) to share it with my manager.

My hope was to hear his thoughts on “being awkward through real talk”, and take action and commit that for one another.

But he decided to one-up me.

He loved the article and shared how awkwardness through being real is the first step to his management philosophy, Radical Candor.

Based on a book called Radical Candor (go figure), he shared a graph (shown above) that visually reveals how profound change and growth happens (or can’t happen), based on two axes - challenge & care.

These axes split into 4 quadrants

  • 😈 Manipulative Insincerity

  • 😡 Obnoxious Aggression

  • 🤕 Ruinous Empathy

  • 😇 Radical Candor

The negative quadrants seem to have an abundance of problems:

  • 😈 Manipulative Insincerity - a lack of care, and even hope for one’s demise causes mistrust.

  • 😡 Obnoxious Aggression - an abundance of challenge, but a lack of care causes defensiveness.

  • 🤕 Ruinous Empathy - an abundance of care, but a lack of challenge causes ignorance.

As I learned the negatives, I started to see the beauty of Radical Candor—the ability to challenge directly and show that you care personally in order to effectively impact.

It makes sense. Growth never happens through comfort. Kindness is not shown through passivity.

It happens through uncomfortable, honest, proactive conversations.

As Dave Ramsey shared in his leadership interview with Craig Groeschel:

To be unclear is to be unkind

Kindness is shown not in keeping the status quo, but in saying what needs to be heard.

Radical Candor is the sweet spot for growth and applies not only to work relationships, but also with family, personal relationships, and friends.

Do you have what it takes to live out Radical Candor?

It may hurt in the short run, having awkward conversations and digging deep, but in the long run, there will be a profound change that will impact your life and those around you.

Questions to ponder: 🤔

  • Is there a family connection, friendship, or relationship you’ve been living out one of the quadrants, besides Radical Candor?

  • What is one way you can express Radical Candor by challenging directly & caring personally this week?