Candor is identified as one of Matter’s top soft skills that is linked to performance and career success. Contrary to popular belief, soft skills like candor can also be learned and developed just like any hard skills. Matter helps professionals tease out blindspots and areas for growth in skills like candor through regular peer-to-peer feedback.

What Is Candor

Definition of Candor: Communicates in a truthful and in a straightforward manner.

Candor requires openness, sincerity, clear communication, and a bit of personal exposure. It’s often uncomfortable to be candid because it requires some degree of vulnerability. When you exert candor in your communication, you encourage others to do the same. Candid communication allows you to both give and get the information you need to improve your team performance and professional growth.

Great Examples of Candor

Betty White: The beloved actress of stage and screen, and former “Golden Girl,”is renowned for both her humor and her directness. In fact, they’re often so skillfully combined that it’s hard to tell them apart. She’s developed a reputation for “telling it like it is,” without putting people down.

Kim Scott: While leading teams at companies like Google and Apple, Scott learned that the most important factor for team success is guidance and honesty. She became so supportive of open, honest communication that she has co-founded Candor, a business that aims to train executives on how to incorporate radical candor in their teams.

Sir Patrick Stewart: The English actor best known for his tenure as the fictional Captain Picard of Star Fleet, is well-known for his candor on screen and in real life. He has spoken frankly about his abusive upbringing, his stance on women’s rights, and his own mistakes over the years.

Why Candor Is Important

  • Positive Communication: Candor shows that you are inherently honest toward and supportive of others. Candid statements offered with the right degree of helpfulness and constructive guidance show that you are caring, not hypercritical.
  • Transparency: Candor creates a culture of transparency and openness. This encourages everyone in the organization or team to voice concerns and challenge assumptions.
  • Growth Mindset: Honesty and trust cultivate a culture where immediate feedback is normalized and welcomed. Candor creates a learning environment. This encourages teams to embrace failures and take more risks.

What Candor Isn’t About

  • Aggression: While open communication and feedback may not always be “positive,” it should always be designed to be helpful and offered with sincerity and respect.
  • Perfect Timing: Part of candor’s value lies in its immediacy. Candor has the power to transform a mistake into a learning experience in the moment, not at a later “perfect” time.
  • Personal Criticism: Candor isn’t focused on the person, but the issue that needs to be addressed. By taking a removed approach, you can avoid making the listener feel attacked.

Abilities That Lead To The Mastery of Candor

Assuming the Best Intentions: Operate under the belief that every person in the workplace wants to do great work. Extending this professional courtesy leads to non-accusatory conversations and reduces the risk of personal attacks.

Being Considerate: Candor does not mean disregarding other people’s feelings. Avoid saying things you’ll later regret by taking a moment to gather your thoughts and composure before communicating.

Being Objective: What you are about to say is your opinion and as much as it feels like the absolute truth, you might not have the whole story. You may be flat out wrong. Being candid is about creating a dialogue; remaining objective helps to keep the door open rather than slamming it shut.

Focusing on the Good of the Company: Candor requires direct, straightforward speaking. Say what you think, say what you mean. Being polite but succinct shows others on your small business team that you value their time and realize that they are professionals who can handle the truth when it’s presented properly.

Getting to the Point: Being candid is about authentically sharing your thoughts and feelings to improve a situation. Make sure your are being candid in the spirit of building up rather than tearing down.

Sharing Specific Examples: Without specific examples to support your opinions, it’s hard for anyone to gain deeper insight or understand your point of view. Sharing specific examples will increase your chances of getting your message heard and acknowledged.

Staying Factual: Favor verifiable statements over subjective opinions. Sharing “Six customers complained about this feature in the last week” results in a thoughtful discussion. Saying “I knew doing this thing would result in customer complaints” encourages defensiveness.

Explore Roles That Benefit From Candor

Who can benefit from practicing candor? Matter is helping professionals at all levels get actionable feedback to improve their candor.

  • CEOs who are looking to become better leaders and cultivate company culture
  • Designers who want to grow their professional and soft skills
  • Freelancers who work without a traditional team and want feedback
  • Project Managers looking to improve their cross-functional collaboration skills
  • Software Engineers who aspire to become a tech lead or manager

Explore Complementary Skills to Candor

Candor shouldn’t be practiced in a vacuum. Improve your candor by exploring and developing these complementary skills.

  • Body Language: Uses engaging and approachable gestures, facial expressions, and postures
  • Coaching: Provides guidance to help others achieve their goals
  • Leadership: Leads, motivates, and inspires your team and/or company
  • Listening: Attends to the speaker in a way that displays interest and enthusiasm
  • Verbal Communication: Speaks effectively using appropriate vocal tone, speed, volume, and vocabulary

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