It’s the biggest presentation of your life. Your friend looks very concerned for some reason, but you dismiss that as pre-presentation nerves. You pump yourself up and head into a life defining presentation. You stand tall and start absolutely crushing it. However, thirty seconds in you start realizing your audience are not meeting your eyeline. They’re looking at your… ZIPPER! Amidst the nerves and the rush you forgot to pull up your zipper. Oh No! What now? Do you play it off for a laugh and zip it up, or do you carry on for the next fifteen minutes letting your audience get to know you a little too well?

Ross from friends trying to zip up his pants in a comedic way

The thing is, that friend that was so concerned earlier, knew about the zipper. The friend was just too worried that telling you about it would be too embarrassing in that moment, and instead allowed you to be embarrassed for fifteen long moments.

We have all been in these kinds of situations where something was needed to be said, however it simply wasn’t and someone paid for it. So it is key to know how to give honest feedback without hurting feelings, but where can that answer be found?

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott. Pull up your zippers, clear the spinach from your teeth, extract the booger from your nose, and buck up because it’s time to head to New York City!

New York, New York

Now you’re in New York, a concrete jungle where dreams are made of and there’s basically nothing you can’t do. The lights are bright and the traffic is pumping. This is where we find the author of Radical Candor, Kim Scott, walking her cute little puppy, Belvedere. All Kim wants is a nice walk through the city but Belvedere has other plans because he tries to make a break for it in the direction of the road. Does Belvedere:

A) Get hit by a car B) Eat a car C) Get yanked by Kim just in time

The answer is C! Thank you for playing!

dog too lazy to walk so his owner has to drag him by the leash

As Kim yanks Belvedere to safety, he continues to freak out on the curb. Suddenly, out of the swarm of New Yorkers comes a mysterious stranger. He says to Kim, “Look, I can see your love your dog, but if you don’t train it, it’s going to get killed”. Kim stands there shocked while Belvedere continues his panic attack. The stranger turns to Belvedere and yells, “Sit!”. The puppy that has never been trained proceeded to sit.

The mysterious stranger began to walk away, Kim still shocked, and Belvedere finally found some chill. However, just before the stranger crossed the street he turned to Kim and said:

It’s not mean – It’s clear

It’s not mean – It’s clear

What Kim experienced in New York City that day was what she would later call Radical Candor. The mysterious stranger could have really laid it into Kim but he was never mean. He expressly showed empathy to the fact that she loves her dog but was very clear and candid on the point that the dog needed to be trained.

This led to Kim setting out two core principles within her book. Two principles that anyone can follow and be radically candid. Kim placed these principles on an axis, where the vertical axis is called “Care Personally” and the horizontal axis is called “Challenge Directly”. Just like the mysterious stranger, you have to express care and empathy first to show the feedback is coming from a good place. Then you hit them with the direct and clear feedback, which you must NEVER relent from even if you hurt their feelings.

Kim believes that this is the key to giving the tough love necessary for the recipient to receive it in a way that will make them grow. Now, time for some tough love.

Tough love

You can go and read this book for yourself, which we highly recommend, but we know you care about your team and want them to be able to take your candid feedback in a positive way. That’s why it is vital you give them the tools to not only receive candid feedback but to give it as well. Otherwise, many things may continue to go unsaid that may potentially hurt the business or the person you care about.

Dwight from The Office talking about his hurt feelings

On Atomic Talks, you can download a free coaching tutorial and free rehearsal deck that allows you to go to your team and deliver a short talk with a massive impact. Watch professional speakers teach you to deliver a talk like a pro, so that you can put the radical candor framework into the minds of your team, which will enable them to give and receive direct feedback in a way that promotes growth and achievement.

Atomic Talks: Radical Candor 

Give that button a click and access your practice decks and professional speaker training tips.