Candor that Strengthens Relationships and Delivers Results
Set a tone of candor early in relationships. Let people know you’re frank, open, forthright, and kind from the moment you meet them.
Candor is difficult because:
- You wait for big hairy issues before practicing it.
- You can’t find the perfect words.
- You might be wrong.
- It might hurt people’s feelings.
- They’ll get mad and lash out.
- You won’t be able to explain yourself clearly.
- It will make things worse.
People avoid candor because they fear bad outcomes.
Candor feels like swimming up stream if you’ve gone with the flow too long.
Sooner is better than later. The worst time to deal with issues is when you waited until you can’t wait anymore.
When frustration fuels candor, you waited too long.
Begin relationships by talking about an ‘awkward’ topic. (I don’t mean politics.)
Candor is simply noticing. It isn’t belligerence, anger, or being in someone’s face.
Jump right into something that others might not bring up . Be known for caring honesty.
How to practice candor without being a jerk:
- Relax. Tell yourself you like the person you’re speaking with and let that feeling show on your face. If you don’t care, you’re a jerk to practice candor.
- Maintain eye contact. Don’t have a staring contest.
- Soften your tone. Candor isn’t an accusation.
- Be curious.
- Be real.
Difficult topics are easier after setting a tone of kind candor early in relationships.
How might leaders set a tone of candor early in relationships?
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Part 2: Candor that strengths relationships and delivers results
Yep. Nicely put. And you can anchor that to Frank Navran’s quote, “Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled.” We need to build better bases on which to have future discussions and conversations.
What is often needed is simple dialog about things. Some people naturally ask lots of questions while others (like me) tend to “respect other people’s privacy” and not get so into these kinds of conversations.
Candor, as you frame it, is not questioning or judging. Something to consider.
If you are talking about performance with a co-worker, discussions of their perspective on things will help you in a discussion about your perspectives on things.
Thanks Dr. Scott. Yes, think of building a base or foundation so that later it’s easier to practice candor.
I hear you on the desire to respect privacy. So often, my role is to have difficult conversations. That’s probably one reason why I’ve grown comfortable with practicing candor from the get go.
Great topic. A friend of mine is noticeably scarred and I asked about it when I first met him. He said it was a private matter and did not want to talk about that, but then he opened up on other topics. We have been honest friends ever since. He did eventually confide in me about the matter, but he never would have begun to trust without the initial candor.
Thanks Duane. You bring up an important idea. There’s a difference between candor and pushy or nosy. Very useful.
Candor is not easily practiced at work or at home however it is so important if our goal is to have honest relationships with ourselves and others. I often start the conversation with “this isn’t easy for me to say but I value our relationship so I think it is important to share this with you or to ask this question.” This softens my heart and often the heart of the person I am with.
Dan I look forward to your posts each day — you are a down to earth help to my leadership development. Thanks!
Just what aliceh7873 said, “You are a down-to-earth help to my leadership development.” Thank you!
Thanks Alice. Love your approach. It combines transparency, openness, positive intention and candor. You demonstrate that candor can be kind, humble, and forward-facing.
There is a fine fine between being too candid and not candid enough. Certainly, there are times when you need to be candid to get through to people. Being totally candid and straighforward gets people’s attention. But if you are too candid and direct it may cause the person to become defensive and stop listening. So it’s important to find the spot that will help you be most effective.
Also, it helps me to remember to always operate from an adult to adult framework.
Thanks Paul. You bring up an important idea. When you see resistance pull back. This applies to those initial conversations. It may not be appropriate to pull back when a performance issue is the topic of conversation.
This post is concerned with getting off on the candor-foot when relationships are new.
I think we may worry too much about going too far. Just be prepared to apologize if you offend someone. Having said that, there are some obvious no-no’s at the beginning of relationships. Things like politics.
Hi Thornton – I’ve never read this expression – to bei candid – it remembers me the studies at Sorbonne IV in Paris, about 38 years ago . wow;) – and as adult, how you do NOT operate as an adult? and with framework, do you mean about respect?
((after more than 3 years – THANK YOU – I wanted to leave your blog – and with just one link to one of your articles on linkedin I made more than 120 views -) respect – all the beat to dear Dan. ))
Sometimes, managers operate in the parent-to-child framework–treating the employee or co-worker like a child—not good. Yes, the adult to adult framework implies respect, speaking as equals, etc.
Thanks Paul. Your point is well taken. Assume that the person you are speaking with is an adult. In some ways, I find the parent-child approach arrogant and degrading. If we want to use a family metaphor perhaps brother/sister or parent to parent works better.
I look forward to learning the “rest” of the story, Dan…
Thanks Christopher. My rough draft went way over 300 words… 🙂
Looking them in the eyes, hand shakes and seeing them in person, as you have known them all your life! Keeping things honest and sincerely spoken develop a connection, that may last a lifetime. You don’t have to dig or pry, keep things open, yet private if need be.
Thanks Tim. This collection of small behaviors makes so much difference. A pat on the shoulder is another form of touch that might make sense.
I’m finding that simply caring about people and being curious is the way to practice kind candor.
Yes Dan, look at us 10 years, seems like a lifetime! 🙂
“It might hurt people’s feelings” I found that my caring candor was hurting members on my teams feelings. I learned that from one of my team members six months later after they got to know me and were thanking me for my candor. After that, every time I had a new team member, I would tell them “I like to be very straight forward with my team, don’t think that every time I am straight forward with you, I am mad at you. How about this if I am mad at you, I will tell you I am mad at you in a very calm tone. If I don’t tell you I am mad at you, fix it and move on, don’t waste any more time wondering if I am upset with you.” My team found that very helpful. It helped for better communication and less time was wasted on drama.
I have found that when approaching a topic that it helps to bring the individuals opinion into the conversation. Like, I need you help with something,I am having some concerns regarding how we are doing on this… any thoughts?? Then we start into the “meat ” of the matter.
Basically allowing/ helping the individual “solve” his own issues.
I believe that candor is something that is critical in leadership. It all starts with relationships. If we as leaders take the time to understand our team members, learn about them, be open to their communication style, and want to see them succeed all right from the start of a relationship, when candor is needed down the road they will know it comes from the right place and intention. We as leaders play a role in how people hear and understand what we say.
Love the simplicity and speed of the posts!
Candor is an essential attribute of any effective conversation and without it nothing can be decided that will have a positive lasting impact.
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