Radical Candor
Radical Candor

Episode 67 · 3 months ago

Radical Candor S4, Ep 8: Get Shit Done Step 3 — Debate (Don't Squish) Ideas


On this episode of the Radical Candor Podcast, we’re going to talk about the steps to follow for a successful debating process. If you skip the debate phase, you’ll make worse decisions, you’ll be unable to persuade everyone who needs to implement, and you’ll ultimately slow down or grind to a halt. Kim, Jason, Amy and producer Brandi discuss a time when a debate went awry and what they should have done instead.

Radical Candor Podcast Episode At a Glance

Big Debate Meetings should be reserved for debate, but not decisions, on major issues facing the team.

They serve three purposes:

  • They lower tension.
  • They allow you to slow down key decisions when appropriate.
  • They foster a larger culture of debate.     

The norms of these meetings are also pretty straightforward.

  • Make it clear that the goal of debate is to work together to come up with the best answer. There should be no “winners” or “losers.”
  • Encourage people to come with data versus recommendations and to not be afraid to disagree with one another.
  • The sole product of the debate should be a careful summary of the facts and issues that emerged, a clearer definition of the choices going forward, and a recommendation to keep debating or to move on to a decision.  

Radical Candor Podcast Checklist

  1. Check your ego at the door. Make sure that individual egos and self-interest don’t get in the way of an objective quest for the best answer. Nothing is a bigger time-sucker or blocker to getting it right than ego. On a broad level, this means intervening when you start to sense that people are thinking, “I’m going to win this argument,” or “my idea versus your idea,” or “my recommendation versus your recommendation,” or “my team feels . . .”
  2. Pause for emotions and exhaustion. If you don’t, people will make a decision so that they can go home; or worse, a huge fight stemming from raw emotions will break out.
  3. Ask participants to switch roles halfway through each debate. This makes sure that people are listening to each other and helps them keep focused on coming up with the best answer and let go of egos and hierarchical positions.     

Radical Candor Podcast Resources

We’re offering Radical Candor podcast listeners 10% off our comedy-based self-paced e-course, The Feedback LoopFollow this link and enter the promo code FEEDBACK at checkout.

The Radical Candor Podcast theme music was composed by Cliff Goldmacher. Order his book: The Reason For The Rhymes: Mastering the Seven Essential Skills of Innovation by Learning to Write Songs.

Sign up for our Radical Candor email newsletter >>Shop the Radical Candor store >>

Hello everybody, and welcome to the radical canter podcast. I'm Kim Scott, co founder of radical candor and also just work, and I'm Jason Rose off, CEO and Co founder of radical candor, and I'm Abe Sandler, your host for the radical candor podcast. On our last two episodes we talked about step two in the get shit done real which is how to clarify an idea, first getting it really clear in your own mind and then making it easy for others to understand as well. So now that you've got that down, it is tempting to feel like you're done. Not So fast, Kim. Do you think it's tempting for people to feel like they want to get it done? They're done at this, at the clarify state. You want to decided, do it. Yeah, and decide. Is that we haven't even gotten to decide it and gotten to decide the right clarified once you're clear in your mind, just start doing stuff. The whole point of spending all that time in clarification mode is just to get your idea ready for a debate, which is step three of the get shit done wheel. If you skip the debate phase, you're going to make worst decisions, you'll be unable to persuade everyone that needs to implement and you'll ultimately slow down or grind to a halt the process. So on this episode we're going to talk about the steps to follow for a successful debating process. And Kim, in radical candor, you write that debates should take place in big debate meetings. In fact, those were each all capitalized. So please do tell us more about these big debate meetings. So I will confess where I'm going to start with a true confession. I actually used to combine off in the big decisions in the big debate meeting, but I did make it very clear when we were items were to be debated and what items were to be decided. Once we grew a little bit bigger, we were able to separate out the meetings and and the reason why it's so important to make it really clear to everyone that you're having a debate and not making a decision is that very often conflict will arise on a team when half the people in the room think they're there to make a decision and the other half think they're there to have a debate and about halfway through the meeting, half the room, the debaters are pissed off at the desires for rushing into something and the deciders are pissed off at the debaters for talking endlessly. And now all of a sudden you're having not only you're neither making a debate nor help making a decision, but you're just kind of pissed off at everybody's so. So to me, that's not product, that's not what that's not going to make us love our work or each other. So if you are more clear about, if you're in fact radically clear about when you're having a debate and when it's okay to have a debate, then that meeting can lower the tension, can can eliminate this abstract fight that people are having without even realizing they're having it, and it will also allow you to slow down decisions that don't need to be made right away, where you do have the luxury of time to keep thinking about things, because very often a decision is uncomfortable and so we just rush into it and and we rarely make the best decision when that's the case. And the other nice thing about a big debate meeting as it can create a culture of debate and good debate this we are not talking about a presidential style debate, which is case number one of a bad debate. It can build a culture where we're collaborating together, we're working with each other to get to the right answer. So, when you say a culture where we're getting to the right answer and we have an example of what a bad debate looks like, Jason, do you have an example? How would you define what good debate looks like? Do you have a specific framework that you think about or a story you want to share about a good debate? When I was leading the design team at Con Academy, you had these things called design critiques, and the idea of a design critique is someone would come in, they would present that idea, which had been fully thought through, fully realized, and they were able to present it with clarity, and the goal of those meetings was for other people to offer ideas, to to sort of spin off of what was there, to offer alternatives to what was there, with the ultimate goal of the person who came in presenting their work walking out with at least a handful of ideas of ways they could make what they put the work that they presented better, and these operated a lot like the rigarian debates that came as described, because what's in interesting is..., even when you have all these rules, as you become very attached, you know, to your own ideas, and so the idea of a big debate meeting in terms of lowering the tension and slowing things down, as it allows us to sit with that attachment for a little while, to actually to try to make a point, but then to let go of making that point and to try to see things from somebody else's perspective. And ultimately, one of the reasons why we have these things is because we were building a service that was for anyone, anywhere, if you read the label of Con Academy, and that meant you. By necessity, you needed multiple perspectives. For someone to say, well, that's not going to work as well for a student in a classroom. Let me tell you why that might not work. Here's an idea for how you might make that same thing work for a student a different situation. Jason, I'm curious. In Our last episode we talked a lot about brainstorming meetings. As a way to clarify, how were those design meetings that you're talking about set up? What we're kind of the rules of the road so that it was clear this was really a debate refine meeting to get to the best idea rather than just throwing a whole bunch of ideas out there like a brainstorm. What was the difference? How was it set up differently? Yeah, so I think one thing was the there's the qualitative difference, which is worth not throwing away, which is at the end of a brainstory meeting you have more ideas, like you may cut. You walk away from a brainstory meeting with maybe doing something or thinking something you had no idea going in that you be doing or thinking. Went in a critique the and the sort of debate style meeting. The goal explicitly was refinement, meaning this idea is is fully realized. We're and what we're trying to do is make it as good as possible before we decide to invest our limited engineering resources and actually going and building this feature. So just at that level, like the qualitative difference between the two meetings, was really important and the fact that we were there was like a shared source material, like there's a baseline set of assumptions and data and the presentation of a piece of work around those assumption and data. was also really different because often in brainstarting meetings the whole goal is to be generative, which means we bring in we can bring in entirely new things. It doesn't have to be the thing that we're talking about. You can say, Hey, this makes me think of this thing over here. So I think from a qualitative perspective and from an operational perspective, the biggest difference was that people were allowed to disagree, like to really double down and say, like I should, I feel strongly that we should not do this for the for this particular reason, which is very different than a brainstorming meeting, where the goal would be to build on an idea, as opposed to we know it down Kim, when Jason's talking about, you know, sort of the permission to dissent, as we talked about. We talked about, you know, having this gavel to dissent and in a previous episode, and it's obligation to dissent. It's it's important words about. Words do matter, all right, so let's actually double click into the difference between permission and obligation to dissent. How do you create a culture where people feel obligated to dissent in a debate meeting, I think. And and a debate meeting you want people to walk into the door not trying to win or lose. There can be no notion. Actually, the only winner or loser is the truth, and a debate is the best and truth is a dangerous word. Is the best answer that we can possibly come up with today. And so I think that if there is a permission to debate or to dissent, then there's also permission not to dissent, whereas so that so if everyone walks in and everyone agrees, then a decision gets made kind of de facto. But when there's an obligation to dissent, if everyone walks in and there's no disagreement, someone has to try to take a moment to think about what the issues might be and problems might be that they might not have considered walking in. So a lot of an obligation to dissent comes back to this notion that we've talked about a few times of switching roles and making sure that if one person in the room, and often this person in the room is a person who has either the most power in the room or the most sort of forceful personality in the room or both. Then when they say something, if no one disagrees, then everyone feels uncomfortable in a situation where there's an obligation to dissent because they know they're supposed to descend. They know they're supposed to speak truth to power. So what is it? What is it debate look like, where the goal is really to collaborate to get the best answer rather than to...

...dominate or to coerce or to win? This is what is Jason was saying. Is What's often called a rosary and debate. The idea of a rosary and debate is very opposite of a presidential debate. The whole goal is not to win or lose, but the whole goal is to listen to the other person well enough that you could then argue their their position, or they could argue your position, so that it's so that our personalities are not attached to one side or another. Another way that this is often described is as a invitational argument. This is work that's done by Sonia false and Cindy Griffin and it's very different from sort of like our legal system, where where there's, you know, we pick a side and we argue, you know, for that side and we don't really care about the truth. Our job is just argue for one side. This is quite the opposite. One of the things that I learned when I was at apple that I found really interesting is that one of the ways that they try to create this kind of debate or invitational argument, although they didn't call it that, certainly apple, but that's what they were doing, was they would encourage people to bring data rather than recommendations to to a debate meeting, because when we bring a recommendation, somehow we attach our ego to it more. I'm not saying that people don't get their egos attached to data, because they do, and data is not always truth it. You know, you can lie with the data, but it's less likely that you're going to get your ego as attached to data than to a recommendation. There's an interesting clip of Steve Jobs where he says I don't care about you know, I don't care about being right. What I care is that we do the right thing, and that's the sort of thinking about being versus doing. It's like a growth mindset versus a fixed minds. That and and I think that growth mindset is really essential to getting this right. Jason, I think when we were talking about sort of the bringing data, not recommendations, and you are reflecting on the importance of questions in addition to data, sort of the what if we do it this way? And it feels like in your CON Academy story with the design meetings, there are questions. So I'm curious, like in your role sitting in those meetings, what was the relationship between questions, bringing inquiry, growth mindset, data, what Kim is just talking about? I think questions are all they're always valuable, but in these critique meetings I wanted people to take positions. I didn't want them necessarily I wanted them to say here's what I think and here's why. That's the value of the data. Right is to say here and data came to your point, doesn't it doesn't always have to be quantitative. It can be qualitative. Meeting, I just spent three hours in a classroom with a bunch of kids and let me tell you what was going on. That's data to right like. But we want people to say not only what they believe but why they believe it, because that's the only way that someone else can use it to get closer to the truth. Yeah, if you don't know why the person is holding that point of view, it's very hard for you to update your priors after they've shared their perspective with you. I think that's exactly right as explaining you know your reason, your rationale, why you think what you think. Again, we can call it data, we can call it something something else, but but that's really what we're what we're getting after. Yeah, so in terms of you know, the the folks that are actually in these meetings can one of the things that you've talked about is that after staff meeting the specific topic, there's an actual owner of that topic, and it sounds like, Jason, there was an owner in those meetings that you were talking about, someone who was making a presentation, and there's participants. And then you're sending some sort of notification about this debate meeting and that the only people that are required to participate are identified, but that anyone should be able to attend or observe a big debate meeting for all. Is that still accurate in your head? And how does participate to meet? I hear participate in I hear obligation to dissent. So if I am a participant, I am obligated to debate or descent in a meeting set right, if you're if you decide to go to the big debate meeting, I would assume that you're going because you're going to participate at some point. But there's not, there's not an absolute requirement. I think the requirement. I don't like requiring people tell us. As I said that I think the chapter of this part of the book is telling people what to do doesn't work. So not gonna tell you you have. So obligation feels. Yeah, well, it's a state of minds, not. But but the idea is that if you own the decision, the all timid decision. So let's say I own a decision and...'s what the topic is. The topic is, should I buy a blue cover for my phone instead of the Orange One? And I say I have to make this decision in three weeks. This week I'm gonna here's the big debate meeting and here are the people who I know I need input from. But anyone else who feels like they should have himput who I forgot? I'm sorry. Here's when the meeting is. Please it's an open meeting. Please come. The reason why I this may be sort of optimized for my own disorganized personality type. Like part of the reason why I liked this was that so very often I would accidentally exclude people. I wasn't consciously excluding them, but I would accidentally exclude them. And by making the big debate and big decision meetings open, then if someone was then you couldn't leave anyone off. Everyone knew what what was going on, and so it may be shifts a little bit of the burden to the from the organizer to the organization more broadly, and we could we could have a debate about whether that's the right design, but that was my design principle. It's interesting because I believe this is from the book. We said the sole product of the debate should be a careful summary of the facts and issues that emerge, a clearer definition of the choices going forward and a recommendation to keep debating or move on to a decision. Yes, okay, I'm that's what comes out. But by the way, when you go in to the debate meeting, I think it can be really useful to have a physical prop and so if you're meeting in person, you can have a coat check, but call it an ego check, like just a reminder. If you're having a virtual meeting, just remind have some sort of physical prop where people are check on their egos. And I think in the middle of the meeting it's really useful to know when to go get a snack or just take a walk, like when to turn the Rock Tumbler off and and let everybody know whether it's a pause or you know what, this decision is so got wrenching. I'm just gonna I'm going to make the decision now. I don't think that's usually the right thing to do. It's better to pause and come back, but sometimes it is. And then also remember be very explicit about switching rolls. If one person feels passionately about something and they're shutting there, they feel so passionately that they're shutting things down, it's a good idea to ask them to take someone else's point of view and the meeting so taking different perspectives in the debate. I just want to call out the Rock Tumbler of debate. We spoke about this in a previous episode. Jason, do you want to give the quick rock tumbler. Definition of the Rock Tumbler, just really quick for people that didn't listen to that one. If you've ever seen a rock tumbler, I feel like you probably know what we're talking about, but you if you have it, there's literally a device or you put, you put rocks and grit into a barrel that rotates, tumbles and polishes the stones like. That's where the term comes from. I realize that many people who might be listening I've never seen one, but as a as an aspiring nerd, I own a rock tumbler, in which I probably I really did. I polished my own. I mean I never heard of a rock tumbler till I read radical candor. I also had a rock tumbler. I own the interesting this might be a question for our audience. Did you have a rock tumbler when you are growing up? I'm very curious. So, Kim, looks like you want to say something. I was going to go down a tangent. I also was obsessed by geodes, which I like to Bang Hunt. Yeah, and now I have a nephew who loves rocks, Rock Tumble, has a rock tumblers love feuds. Yeah, all right, oh, gosh, this is there little a whole other episode. There tens of you, the ten. Well, who knows, there my right as podcast at radical CANTERCOM. If you want here more, how do you feel about US talking more about rock tumblers and and geodes? But I want to call out, Kim, what you were talking about of having this prop. The prop specifically is about checking egos at the door, also about kind of knowing when to take a snack or go on a walk. And I'm curious, Jason, when you think about out these debate meetings, when we move from either in person to virtual or hybrid, anything from your perspective that might need to change up a little bit if the debate meeting is happen happening virtually versus in person, without the coat rack. Other than guidance. That applies to all virtual meetings where participation is really important. I don't think there's actually that much you need to be concerned about. But the whole idea here is to get input right. The reason you're holding this meeting... to get people's input, and so I would see it as the responsibility of the meeting runner. Like when I was running these meetings mostly in personal that we did have a virtual team. One of the things that I noticed was that it was actually really hard when you're when we were hybrid, for people who are remote to get a word in edgewise because there's a small delay, a latency in the vert on the virtual side of things that in person you could start see someone fidget or lean forward like they're going to start to say something was instantaneous. You could sort of respond to that, but you wouldn't always see that in a remote setting. But what it made us do was have better discipline in both cases, which is we would have several breaks where we would stop and we would ask explicitly, does anybody have input? Does anybody want to share something? And so the in some ways the like downside of the technology, wound up creating discipline for us to create pauses where we explicitly went around the room and gathered input and people would say no, I don't have anything I need to add and we move on. So I didn't take a ton of time. It was actually quite quick, but it stopped the thing from happening, which is someone's been trying to say something for twenty minutes but they keep slightly getting interrupted and they're sort of like leaning away instead of leaning toward the you know, the microphone, so you can't tell that they're trying to say something and you wind up missing some really important input. Yeah, that's so interesting. I wonder about the value of having a moderator. So if you have the presenter who sort of owning the topic, do you also recommend having a moderator to lead this debate and ensure there is that everyone gets a voice and that there's really moments to have the descent as well? Can what do you think about a moderator? Huh, it's probably a good idea. I would never do it because I just probably a criticism of me rather than the idea. The thing is that the more rules and process you have on a conversation, the more unnatural it's going to the more tedious it feels to me, and so I would tend to rely on people to lead the meeting and moderate. But I will acknowledge that there are people who are really good at moderating meetings and people who are not so good at moderating meetings, and so learning how to lead a good meeting and how to pay attention to these kinds of cues is some thing that I think, you know, there could probably be more room to teach people how to do this, since I was never presenting, or not never, but I was very rarely presenting work directly myself. I was often paying attention to like who's contributing, who's not contributing, and I knew the team well enough to to know, you know, hey, this person happens to know a lot about this topic that we're talking about. We haven't heard anything from her the entire time, like I'm curious about that, and so sometimes it's like asking directly, but came to your point. Sometimes, on a break or something, I would just go find that person say hey, I'm kind of cute, like I'm just curious. It seems like the kind of thing that you normally contribute a lot to it. I feel like we're missing your your voice in this conversation. And you know, a lot of the time it was entirely innocent, meaning that person's just like I'm super tired. Yeah, like normally I would, I'd be totally participating. I'm just feeling off my getting that. Yeah, yeah, today, but sometimes it was the person was feeling quite frustrated about the way the conversation was going and didn't feel like and felt like they would be inter you know, interrupting the harmony. You know what I'm saying? Yeah, at that point you'd have to say that's the blinds and that's why, right, if we're too harmonious, like, we need to know that now. Much better to know that now than after we've invent, you know, invested, yeah, dozens or hundreds of hours of people time building something that's not going to work. Yeah, that's where the obligation to dissent comes in. And like reminding I think very often people feel like they are being collegial or kind to remain silent. And sometimes people are remaining silent, and I'm guilty of doing this myself when I just really want a meeting to be over. I'm just I'm like, I'm not going to say word, just want this to is. PODCAST is now over. And so I think the more that you, as the moderator, can be aware of those kinds of dynamics and to try to do what you can to to make them not happen, the the better. And and I really I think everybody who's going to lead a this, you know, a big decision and who's going to bring in and incorporate people who need to contribute to that decision and the lead the debate. One of the things you need to learn how to do is to moderate the conversation and to really listen, and I think if you delegate the moderation of the meeting to someone else, it takes the burden from...

...the decider, takes takes the burden away from them to listen, and you can't delegate listening. I mean you just have to do it yourself. You know, I don't want to go to the dentist today, so I'm going to delegate that to my husband, like I gotta go to the dentist for my own damn teeth. You know, if you're going to listen, if you're going to make the decision, you've got to listen and you're going to if you're going to have the debate meeting, you've got to listen and you've got to learn how to listen. Jason, in the those meetings, were you the decider? No, usually not, I would say, like I think moderation is too strong of a word for what I would describe myself as doing, which is more like noticing, like participation right, who was participating, who wasn't participating, and I feel like part of the challenge of moderating your own you know, the Bait is that you might be quite interested in the conversation, meaning maybe Kim brings up a point about the work product that I'm showing and I'm like super interested, I hadn't thought about that, and we wind up spending a bunch of time talking about this idea and I'd like and I'm not I'm engrossed in that conversation. I'm necessary fully looking around the room and noticing by other people sort of like tuned out. This isn't necessarily the only thing that we should be discussing. I felt like my job was essentially to gently call attention to to that and really I I didn't moderate because I left it up to the person who is presenting the work to actually make the change. But I would say something like Hey, I we haven't heard, you know, a new idea in a while, and then that would be have to serve signal that person to just defind attention one keeping tabs on sort of emotional state, hunger like, and also just equity in terms of voices. I think what's interesting, Jason, also about what you said, following up with the woman who hadn't spoken, that when we're virtual we have to be more intentional about that. Like it's a lot easier to do that when someone is just, you know, walking and we've got like a few minutes outside, but we need to be a bit more intentional virtually. So, Kim, just like you know, I love a good brainstorm and I talked about how not everyone loves a good brainstorm. I don't really love a debate as much as I love a good brainstorm and I know that there's probably people that almost dread debate meetings. Tell us more about like different people's reactions to the idea of big debate meetings. I also really I don't like debate myself. I in fact, I think we just kind of dodged a debate there because I was in dodge at debate. I think we were saying different things but we didn't really hate it. So I think I was saying please, don't give me a moderator and Jason was like, I'm the moderator. He didn't really know. Jason said it was not. I think Jason didn't say he was a moderator. But I think Jason said, you want to have someone there that sort of looking out for the whole group. But a moderator is like, you know, they're on a presidential debate and they're making sure that, like everywhere is like that must these are not presidential. This right. So it's like a small m moderator, I would say, like moderator. In my mind, the reason why it's so important for the person standing and presenting the work to be the moderator is like it is to transmit the idea that it was important to you can, which is that it's their responsibility to hear, to get the information from people. And so in my mind, the difference between what I was doing when a moderator does is flow control. Like the flow control of the conversation still belong to the person who's presenting the work, and I was like suggesting from the side, like, and sometimes it wasn't to the person right, like I said, sometimes it was like in a break or something along those lines, where I was asking someone their perspective. And so the point was that the person still in control the conversation. I wasn't saying Hey, stop talking to Kim and talk to Andy. Yeah, yeah, I was saying, Hey, I'm curious if anyone else has a perspective, and that was enough to sort of allow the person to look up and notice what else might be going on. Yeah, so in some ways, the in those conversations, I'm guessing you are one of the more senior people in the room. That's a good role. underd percent of the time. Yeah. Yes, so that's a good role for the senior person to play, not to grab the decision, but to help make sure that everybody's talking correct like one of the things I would do when I was the more senior person in the room as I would volunteer to take the notes. Yep, that's another thing, and it was just a way really for me to shut myself up, but it's also really important. Yeah, yeah, yeah, and then the most junior person wasn't taking the notes in the room and and they were liberated to participate more. They felt more of an obligation to descent, but they also had more ability to dissent because they weren't taking the notes. Can you also talked about how we avoided a debate and how you actually don't love a debate. So just yess on for people that don't love a debate to see the value of it. Still. I think the thing that helps me love debate more is when I think about... in terms of the invitational argument or the Rogarian argument, where my goal. What I don't like is to walk into a room and to have an agenda. I also like don't like this in my calendar, when my calendar is clogged up every day and I know what I'm going to do with every I don't like having an agenda. I like being free. We talked last time about having these open conversation. I like being open and free. I find I'm in a more creative space, and so if I think about this debate as a collaboration as opposed to a contest, then I like debate a lot more. When I think about it as a contest, or like as a legal thing or presidential kind of debate, then I don't want to do it. When weren't you a debate now star in high school getting now, I thought. Now have debate history. Now I'm I am I. Yet you were a debater or you have taught stories of you being a great debater or not. Andy is nodding. Really tell us? I tell us what you've heard minded nations wants, and I learned that's what you're thinking of, so I did. Okay, yeah, n you want me to tell the story of already told these and many times on this but I don't know will. When I was in high school I did model United Nations and, for most of you know, and freshman and sophomore and junior year I was very well prepared and I went in I don't know I had I knew all about the country that I was supposed to be representing. Blah, blah, blah, Blah Blah, and I never you know, did especially well as a delegate. And then my senior year I was applying to college and I was breaking up with my first romantic and I had no time or capacity to prepare for to represent the Czech Republic and or Checho Slovakia, as it was then, and so I just went there and I just because I was not able to think about all these facts. I was just watching the people and I realized nobody really knew anything about their country and they were just they were just kind of slamming one another and being rude to one another, and I was like, well, I could do that and and of course I was one of very few women. I was mostly boys who were in the model United Nations and Memphis Tennessee, and I just spent all my pent up frustration about college application and the and the end of my first romance. I just I flung it all at these kick and then I kind of by the end of I was I was kind of a bully, frankly, and by the end of the day I felt gross about my behavior and I remember going home and taking a bath and my mother bursts into the bathroom and she says, Caim, I got a phone call. Why aren't you there? You've won the best delegate a war. It was an important lesson for me, one to realize the extent to which, very often, you know, postulatory boldness wins out over the facts and it should not. And the moral of the story is not to act like a jerk in a debate, but to learn, learn how to have these more productive conversations that are not that kind of that are not that kind of experience, because it was gross, like the why should the person who is meanest and most bullying win? The Person? Everybody loses when that person wins. We want to make sure that we're creating a situation where everyone speaks and everyone is listening, more importantly, everyone is listening to one another. Well, I'm so glad you brought that up, and especially this idea of your actual distaste for debate when it is this contest versus a collaboration. And you know, I wanted to bring into the conversation what we were talking about a little bit earlier, which is this ego check and when power enters the room. And I think the assumption that you're making with a healthy debate meeting, a culture of debate, is that everyone's has a sort of an equity, has a fair voice at the table, but we found is that doesn't always happen. And just you know, as a team we were working on a comedic script for a training video and there was a line that our colleague Brandy and I thought was inappropriate, because the script was calling for a black woman to make light of a Typo they had made by delivering a sexually suggestive joke to her male boss. It was specifically directing the character to say flirtatiously, getting everyone's butt in. is working for me on a lot of levels because the TYPEO had said Beutt rather than by, and we both, brandy and I, had a real concern about this and when we brought it forward, both in sort of written feedback and then in the debate meeting, what we were sharing was shut down and it did not become...

...a debate and I think there were probably some power dynamics happening there. And so, Kim, Jason, just wanted to bring that to you so that you could reflect on that and any lessons on how folks could handle something like that differently. And before Jason and I jump in on, can we invite Brandy to join the conversation? You all don't get the year from brand even now, but we should hear from her point of view as well. First sure, I I think from my perspective, the power dynamics, I think the person I was disagreeing with was a vice president and I was a manager at the time. I think I was only part time even, and I was bringing up that I thought that this joke was not only an appropriate for the word place, but that it was sexual harassment, and this person shut that down very quickly and said, you know, it's not sexual harassment and I was being too sensitive and I'm the expert. We know what's funny, basically saying that the line would stay in and after, after the meeting, the meeting, after the meeting, we had many, many more conversations about it. We're actually went and pulled legal documents to back up my point, because I felt like maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. But I did find that if you do make sexual jokes at work in front of other people who find that offensive, that could potentially be considered sexual harassment. If that person is offended, it's an ongoing situation. They reported to hr you, the joke maker could be in trouble legally. So I think like not only were did you get shut down in the meeting, there was maybe a little bit of gaslighting going on, like as though you know, this person was acted as though they knew what constituted sexual harassment and what didn't and that was not their area of expertise. Right correct. Yeah, and yeah, and it was interesting because, brandy, I mean I as we went through it, and it did as you said, we had a lot of conversations and I in trying to be an upstander and saying like I will die on this hill, you know, for you, but then had a fault conversation with you, Kim, where you didn't first understand what I was doing in that context. Now we're not you know, I will say I once I understood, but it took you all, both you a me and brandy, a lot longer than it should have to get through. I was not a good listener in this case and and once I understood the situation, I realized that I had not done the thing that I usually consider myself pretty good at doing, which is making sure everyone has a voice, making sure everyone is is on a level playing field. I hadn't done that at all in this meeting for some reason, and I still don't understand. I don't have a good there's, I mean there's. All I can do is say I'm sorry, I don't there's. There wouldn't be a good reason, but it would be useful for me if I could understand why I failed to do that so utterly in this meeting, but I don't. I don't have them. We just here exhaustion. It was pretty covid. We were still doing in person events, this project we were doing on top of all of our regular work. It was very time consuming and we had a lot of feedback sessions and debates, and I think the frustration came that amy and I felt that we were we had given already given this feedback multiple times and discussed it multiple times and we were just being ignored by the decider. Now you can, I think, the other team. Yes, yeah, and I I'll build on that by saying it wasn't clear to me either, like a Firston wasn't clear to me either, like why, why this particular thing was was so sensitive and I was not. I'm not a legal expert, so I wasn't sure who was wreck, like, I don't know, it's this person right. Is the is brandy right, like, I don't know. That, combined with the fact that, you know, we were deferring to some extent to expertise, like in my in my mind, it's like well, this person, this person should know, caused us to shut down debate, like it was easier to say, like we're working this person because they're day experts, so therefore that expert opinion wins in this particular case. But that was a completely unnecessary because we didn't even have to decide in that moment, you know, which of these things to do. We just need to make sure that the feedback was really heard and like a simple solution would have been to say, Hey, can you the the part of the decider? Can you go dig into what brandy is saying, like she's raising a legitimate concern, like validate whether or not that concern like the legal part of the concern. And then there's that, because then there's the qualitative part of the feedback also, which up well, I don't think was addressed. So there's like the legal part of the feedback, which is like does this constitute harassment, and there's the qualitative part of the feedback, which is like is it appropriate to have...

...this character say it to this other character? Yeah, was like the other part of the feedback, even in the context of the story, forget the legal framework of harassment, like is it appropriate? Neither of those things were heard, but it was it was in Cam and my power to help both of those things be heard, and I feel like, because neither of us were sure, I feel like that contributed him to your inability to hear, because I remember you and I talked about it afterwards and I was like, I don't know, I don't think I oh, no, I don't know if that's lastment. So I didn't make your job any easier. Yeah, and the fact that we didn't know. We like we should know before we make a decision. I think. So something is coming up for me here, which is, I think, part of part of the issue for me and that meeting is that we had said we're going to finalize and I think and you're having the finalize something, you're in a danger zone where debate because because you're in a hurry and debate is not it's feel it always feels like usually debate speeds things up in the long run, but if you're going to finalize something, then debate feels like it's getting in the way of the objective of the meeting. That makes perfect sense, especially can when I know that one of your things is efficiency, and once you've gotten into efficiency mode, then that almost override sort of yeah, being able to hear what's happening. And I think the other reason why that's so important is because I know one of the things, especially when you're giving so much feedback, sort of became a joke of like I'm going to die on this hill, but like that was sort of the measure, like is this a hill to die on? Is this hill to do? It's like no, but now this is like, you know, there are multiple hills, and I think you're hitting the nail on the head with the finalizing because it's such a constraint that it didn't give us enough space for all of the different hills that we actually needed to cover. So then the real legitimate hill didn't get addressed. It was sort of put in the same level of importance as things that were not nearly as important. Anytime you're in a meeting where the goal is to finalize something, you should ask of course I'm next, or I'll put it I don't know what you should do. I'll tell you what I'm going to do next time. I'm gonna say, is this a rubber stamp meeting? If so, you know I'm not going to show like I don't need to be at a rubber stamp meeting. Yeah, and I think in this particular instance the joke would have been funny in an episode of the office, but considering that we were making a training video that without the context of the relationship between these two people, the only way it could be ignored or it could be flagged as racially and sexually inappropriate. Yes, and would have been. I mean, and that's not funny. Like I think the other one of the you know, I am the decider about what's funny, like that's all so dangerous. Nobody like that was problematic. Another problematic sort of construct of that meeting. Again, like I feel like that's a place can where you and I fail to use the power that we had to challenge that that precept. Yes, it was a total failure on my part. I share in that responsibility. I think it's like that's important to recognize that the goal of the meeting affects people's behavior. Right, one of the things we're staying is, like we say, the gold meeting is to decide the thing and then everybody's debating. It feels like it feels inefficient. You said this at the top of the episode. Yeah, feels really infficient if everybody starts talking, like dis agreeing about stuff. But a really important thing that you say about exiting a debate meetings. If you're going to leave a debate meeting, you need to know whether or not all of the things have been finalized or whether more debate is necessary. And I feel like what brandy and amy were doing was saying more debate is necessary, yeah, about this particular thing, and instead of US hearing that, we were like, finalize me. Yeah, and so it's like that. That idea of knowing where you are in this process, like in the wheel, is really important. This is a there's a real cost to getting that wrong, to not knowing where you are and to signaling the wrong position, the wrong eating, you know title, because it's not just in this moment it went wrong. took us a long time to unwind what happened here and to actually fix it. Yeah, and then it took time for us to restore the you know, the I think amy and brandy rightfully lost some faith in your and my ability to have their voices heard and took time for us to restore that. Yeah, I mean, and I think it's a good example of what very often what feels inefficient is actually way more efficient. And I would have been way faster for us to say okay, this was a finalized meeting, now to debate meeting, let's have this debate like that. Would have been more, far, far faster to get to resolution then to just say yeah, you know, you got to move.

And the irony that you know, another irony of this is that part of the reason I was in such a hurry, I think, is that I was editing just work, which was about up the iron as pile up here as we continue to talk. Well, and I just want to acknowledge I think one of the reasons why I do have so much trust and care and gratitude is because we do have these conversations. And so, you know, if I'm listening to this conversation, what I would take away from it as wow, mistakes are going to happen and ever is going to be friction and sometimes the efficient you know, like Kim, you're saying you got to almost slow down to speed up. But I think the biggest takeaway is just it's actually and how you handle the mistakes and the ability to have these follow up conversations. That's actually how you get closer. So, you know, I just courage people to have that as a takeaway, because that's certainly how I how I feel about it, just in terms of it's how you really respond to to really being heard, and I felt I felt hurt. I don't know, Brandy, do of any other typically, I sure going to say the same. I think that Kim and Jason Are the first people I've worked for that I actually felt comfortable bringing something like that up. I think on Jason In my first one on one meeting I brought it up and I was so nervous and Jason was so great. I would have never brought that up to a boss in the past because I felt I wouldn't have been heard or there would have been some sort of retaliation, and that this was just such a different scenario and him and Jason are such great bosses. I'm not just saying that because we are on the PODCAST, but we did screw you up and we will spend the message and yeah, yeah, I think that today you liked it a space of psychological safety that we felt comfortable talking about it with you. Yeah, I do. There's something valuable there which is like, this is something I wind up saying quite a lot in my in my workshops, is that saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing is not the thing that destroys relationships. It's what you do when someone tells you you have said, we're done the wrong thing. Yeah, but has the potential for infinite relationship damage. It is really true. And yet we as soon as we hear that we've messed up, we get defensive. It's it. For some reason, our instincts on this tend to lead US astray indeed. Well, I think we're here. We Are we're out creating our instincts. We're stronger than ever. Shall we wrap this one up? Let's do it now. It's time for a radical candor checklist tips you can use to start putting radical candor into practice. Tip Number One, check your ego at the door and, if you're the most senior person in the room, maybe help other people check their egos hip the door as well. Make sure that each person self interest doesn't get in the way of having a collaborative truth, a collaborative quest for the best answer. Nothing is a bigger time sucker or blocker than to getting it right then one's ego. So, in other words, come into the meeting being prepared to take other people's role, being prepared to offer facts, not recommendations, being prepared to listen so that you can learn something, rather than with a mentality I'm going to win this argument or you know. This is me versus you, or my idea versus you are your idea or my data versus your data. Make sure you're coming in with with that notion of a rosarian argument or in invitation to argue the number two. This can get intense, so make sure that you're leaving space for emotion and exhaustion. Like an our example, there are lots of factors that contributed to us mismanaging what could have been a relatively straightforward debate, and so if we don't pay attention to those things, were often going to lose the input of people who have who have a very strong perspective but are maybe tired of trying, are tired of trying to share it. And the really sad heart is like, once the emotions get the best of the conversation, that can be really hard to re establish the good natured ego checking shared quest for the truth that Kim is describing. And finally, tip three. One Way to get to that best answer is to ask participants to switch roles halfway through each debate. This make sure that people are listening to each other and help some really stay focused on getting to the best answer and getting out of our Egos and hierarchy. If you are someone who is more senior, like Jason described,... can keep an eye on whether folks are contributing and, if they're not, encourage equitable distribution of airtime in these conversations. For more tips, you can go to radical candorcom. Flash resources download are learning guides to practice radical candor. For the show notes for this episode, go to radical candorcom podcast. Go ahead, rate and review US on Apple podcasts. Don't forget. Kim talked about it her latest book. Kim, what's the title? Just work how the route out bias, prejudice in bulling to create a kick ass culture of inclusivity that is available everywhere books are sold, as well as the radical candor store for radical candor swag. That's on radical cantercom and click the shop link. Bye for now. Thanks for joining us. Our podcast features radical candor co founders Kim Scott and Jason Rosoff. Is produced by our director of content, Brandy meal, and hosted by me Amy Sandler. Music is by cliff gold mocker. Go ahead and follow us on twitter at candor and find us online at radical candorcom.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (73)