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Candor: Apply with extreme caution

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

If you’ve ever caught yourself saying— a bit defensively—“I was just being honest,” rest assured that you’re not the only person to have offended a colleague, customer or staff member with your candor.

But effective leaders smooth out the rough edges of their candor, with these techniques:
  • Question, don’t state. Stating your opinion often closes the discussion, shutting you off from more information that can guide your decision.

    Instead of: “That’ll never work.”

    Say: “Why do you think that will work?”

  • Check your assumptions. What you hear may differ from what the person actually said … or intended to say.

    Instead of: “You can’t make up your mind.”

    Say: “It appears that you’re having a difficult time deciding. Am I correct?”

  • Advocate for the good of the organization, not your own position. Spend the time finding out about other people’s positions, then share how you arrived at yours. Heck, they could actually be right.

    Instead of: “We can’t do that; we need to do this.”

    Say: “Tell me more.”

  • Lead, don’t dictate.

    Instead of: “Here’s what we’ll do.”

    Say: “I haven’t nailed down the details yet, but here’s how we might do this.”
— Adapted from “Get Your Point Across Without Being Rude,” Sarah Fenson,

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