Couple candor with kindness

Rebecca Morgan quote
Photo: Rebecca Morgan, Hpa-An, Myanmar


Candor can be a wonderful gift. In it’s absence, many people think they are doing well, when really they are alienating others right and left. In consulting with managers for 3 decades, I’ve seen as much dysfunction resulting from no candor as from too much.

When feeling compelled to deliver unpleasant feedback, it is common to preface it with “I just want to be honest.” That seems to then release the giver from any need to couch the comments in a way that takes into consideration how their words might affect the receiver. They can spew forth any judgmental and overarching comments in the delusion that they are being helpful.

More often than not, this candor is really an excuse to tell off the receiver, or share their perception of the person which isn’t necessarily shared by anyone else.

The result is the receiver can get defensive or hurt. They can lash out, or withdraw, feeling that they have no redeeming qualities.

What’s missing in the vast majority of cases is kindness. If the comments are delivered with some thought about timing, location and word choice, the message is much more likely to be heard and received. The receiver can then decide what actions, if any, are warranted.

The next time you feel you need to give some honest feedback, take some time to think through how you will say it, as well as when and where. You are more likely to make a difference with the receiver rather than alienate them.