Part 2: Misunderstandings About Candid Conversations


An excerpt from the upcoming book Candid Conversations – what and how

Part II

Having crossed that line, to have spoken against ‘candid’, our ego goes to work to erect walls against finding any new understanding (different from the understanding I managed to glean so far). ‘Just more ways to make me look stupid’, my internal voice declares. It wants to protect itself from showing that it does not quite understand. It wants us to stay away and not join in conversations about that topic. It becomes increasingly invested in justifying the not understanding and blaming something or someone for the injustice of it all. ‘Just get away from me.’

Many concepts, when first forming and starting to be used, can experience this misunderstanding. It is a vicious (self feeding) circle. Once misunderstanding begins to spin it takes something big to break it. We get invested in maintaining that circle as a matter of personal self defence.

The idea of Candid Conversations seems to be an idea like this.

Though many famous people swear by the idea and books have been written touting the massive successes achieved by using Candid Conversations try to find someone who can explain exactly what it is and how to do it effectively. (see the examples section to learn about Jack Welch (CEO GE), Alan Mulally (CEO Ford), Ed Catmull (CEO Pixar) and how those hugely successful business icons implemented Candid Conversations) Welch, Mulally and Catmull point to the rigorous use of Candid Conversations as the magic sauce that allowed them to achieve so much. And btw, some of their staff could not support the idea and left to find other employment. So no, it is not for every person.

When most people are asked what a Candid Conversation is in the world of business, the theme of insensitivity, maybe even brutality is very common among the rank and file of industry. Without actually knowing both what it is and how to use it, we are back to fear through misunderstanding. Announcing that we are introducing Candid Conversations throughout the organization can generate a palpable shudder among our people. “Oh great, now my boss gets to really stick it to me”, has been heard in response to such an announcement. Understandable.

Again, what is your very first reaction, just for a second, when I say, ‘may I be candid with you?’. I don’t know about you, but my suspicion feeling starts to awaken. So too for most people. And way stronger when the one introducing the idea is someone in a position of power. Think, for instance, a parent or a teacher or a Policeman or a participant in one of your workshops. The word ‘candid’ comes with baggage, innuendo, suggestion that can put us on danger alert. What kind of communication are you expecting when ‘may I be candid with you?’ is spoken?

Candid Conversation is in the category of ‘be cautious’ about this. Why? Because we don’t know exactly what it is and our experiences in life, so far, have tied a warning bell to that phrase. Though nothing else has yet been said, I’m getting ready to hear something I probably don’t want to hear. My flight or fight response is awakened.

What is your relationship with the word ‘candid’?

End Part II  of an excerpt from the upcoming book Candid Conversations – what and how