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Posts Tagged ‘candid communication’

Can I Be Candid with You? The Real Definition of Candor

A few weeks ago, a college student introduced me before I spoke at a conference. I heard him practicing out loud shortly before he was to read my introduction on stage. As he practiced, I heard him struggle with the word candor. Initially he pronounced it as can-door vs. can-dor. He’d never seen the word and didn’t know what it meant.

The word candor is not being used on a regular basis. Younger people may not know what it means. And, in my experience, people who are familiar with the word often misinterpret candor to mean bad news. Most people expect bad news to come after the question, “Can I be candid with you?”

The definition of candor is to be honest, truthful and forthright. We at Candid Culture define candor differently. The Candid Culture definition of candor:  Telling people what you need before challenges occur. Anticipating everything that can take a project or relationship off track and talking about potential pitfalls before they happen.

Think about the projects and processes in your office – hiring someone new, sourcing a vendor, training people on new software. The potential breakdowns are predictable. You know the pitfalls that can happen when starting anything new because you’ve experienced them.

What if candor sounded like, “We want this project to be smooth. There are a couple of things that will make our work together go well and a few things that may delay the project and have it cost more than we budgeted. Let’s talk about what needs to happen for things to go smoothly, ways to prevent missed deadlines, and how we’re going to handle breakdowns when they happen.”

Some call a conversation like this setting expectations, others call it planning. In my world, these conversations are called candor –talking about what you need when projects begin, rather than letting the anticipatable train wreck happen.

Candor isn’t bad news. It’s telling people how to win with you vs. making them guess.
Examples of candor at work and at home:

“Here a few of my pet peeves… It would be great if you could avoid them.”

“What will frustrate you?”

“I turn off my cell phone alerts at night, so feel free to text or call me anytime. I’ll respond to all messages in the morning.”

“I respond to text messages mostly quickly, then voicemail, then emails. If you don’t get a reply to an email within two or three days, don’t take it personally. Chances are I haven’t read the message. Feel free to follow up with a text or voicemail.”

“I work best by appointment. Drop by’s are hard because they interrupt my flow. Email or text me if you need something, and I’ll tell you when I can swing by. Does that work for you?”

For the most part, we treat people as we want to be treated. Other people aren’t us. They don’t do things as we do and don’t know what we want. Don’t make people guess how to work with you, what you need, and what you expect. Be candid and tell them! Then ask what the people you work and live with expect from you.

You won’t get what you don’t ask for.

Just Say No to Saying Nothing – Speaking Up at Work

Unless I’m out of town or steeped in laziness, I go to a yoga class most Monday nights. There is another class in the same studio right after the class I attend. During the last few minutes of this week’s class, people attending the next class began to congregate outside the studio and were talking loudly enough that our class could hear them. The teacher walked outside and asked them to be quiet. Then she walked back into the room and told our class that she just did something she doesn’t typically do–speak up. When the class was over she went back outside and apologized to the people she’d asked to be quiet.

Why!? Why!? Why!?

What is the big deal with giving feedback and asking people to do something differently?

Unless you live in a cave, this happens to you too. People talk near your office or cubicle and it’s distracting, but you don’t feel you can say anything. Someone in your office cc’s your boss every time he wants something from you. It annoys you and makes you distrust the person, but you don’t feel you can say anything. The people sitting in front of you at a movie theater talk throughout a movie, it’s annoying, but you’re hesitant to say anything.

Again, why, why, why!?

I already know what you’re going to say. People will be angry at you for speaking up at work and will kill you off.

That may be true, but what the heck?! That’s crazy. We do stuff. It annoys other people. They tell us.  BIG DEAL!  No one died.

speaking up at work

My entire business, Candid Culture, is focused on helping people feel they can be more candid at work. Speaking up at work is a struggle in every organization. People are afraid to give feedback. They fear retribution –real or imagined.

speaking up at work

Make a pact with each other that it’s ok to tell the truth. And that people will take the feedback in the spirit it was intended –to make something better, not to be critical. Give each other permission to be candid without consequence.

The more often you find yourself speaking up at work and giving feedback, the easier it will be.

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