Radical feelings

Reading time: 2 minutes

“Radical honesty” is a phrase I’ve been throwing out a lot recently – manifesting as more talk than actions in some cases. Perhaps though, when I first started saying it, I didn’t understand quite the nuance of what I wanted to deliver. Recently I read an interview [Guardian, May 2018] with Amanda Palmer, who talks about this in a compelling way:

I find myself constantly torn between honesty and compassion, because I realise that my ageing teenage style of radical honesty is not necessarily always compassionate. If you want to be a good feminist and a good humanist, your job is not to make people angry and upset all the time; your job is to proceed with compassion.

If we talk about radical honesty in a work or team context, we usually mean giving feedback. The dictionary definition of feedback is the return of information about the result of a process or activity to encourage more active behaviour in the future.

I’ve worked in work environments where we haven’t had feedback for months, for fear of hurt feelings, or pure laziness. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Bridgewater Associates approach… Led by Ray Dalio, the hedge fund operates on a culture of “radical transparency”, meaning all feedback is open and anyone can critique anyone else – the key element being that it is all done openly. After every meeting and action, people are given the opportunity to be rank and comment upon their colleagues, from the bottom of the org to the top. One example is ranking the top 200 managers, by performance, publically. (To learn more about this, Adam Grant’s WorkLife podcast has a revealing interview with Dalio and his team. It also has the best advert I’ve ever heard on a podcast – get out the tissues 😢).

This rough and ready to give approach which is what Kim Scott of Candour Inc calls obnoxious aggression. A gentler, more effective approach could be Scott’s “radical candour”. Radical candour results from a combination of caring personally and challenging directly.

In her book, Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You MeanScott uses a quadrant to teach teams the concept: “The vertical axis is caring personally and the horizontal axis is challenging directly, you want your feedback to fall in the upper right-hand quadrant. That’s where radical candour lies.”

Radical Candour quadrant

Long story short, the radical part perhaps comes from the part it’s innovative or progressive to be honest with one’s opinion, rather than hiding it away. The British nature, in particular, is to clam up once anything gets personal, which is to say, no one wants to seems vulnerable (Dolly Alderton wrote a great piece recently on how gendered it can all get, with men being applauded for showing emotions. Ladies, stop crying, jk.)

So why don’t we ditch radical? Let’s take the compassionate angle to honesty, telling people things they should hear, but coming from a place of caring. Looking at the origins of the word honesty, it means truth, certainly, but there’s also an element of ethics and integrity in there.

Easier said than done of course, but I find the more vulnerability you show, the more others are willing to open up to you. The only way we have growth is by through change and to risk failing. Or, achieve the first attempt in learning. Proceed with compassion for all parties, including yourself.

Critical linking 03

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Critical Linking

🔮 Find your purpose in five minutes! LINK

🕶 The spectacular power of Big Lens. Essilor and Luxottica are about to merge – but what’s the story…? LINK

💼 A day in the life of Americans – a data visualisation/simulation. Mesmerising. LINK

🍥 A visual guide to writing personal essays. I am fond of the whorl of reflection. LINK

🎺 Four things procrastinators need to learn… Such as confidence comes after you start, not before. Oof. LINK

📝 Māori greetings and sign-offs. My friend Alix shared an email from her mum which had ngā mihi nui in the signature. I’ve taken it for my own use, as a) it connects me with home and b) it has an emphasis on gratitude. LINK

🤷‍♀️ If you want a more innovative company hire more women. LINK

🧠 I’ve been thinking about… ‘solvitur ambulando’, or it is solved by walking. I’ve started running again | Listening to Paint it Black by the Rolling Stones – reflective of my mood and also the fact there’s a new season of Westworld which I love, love, love. This lead me down a sitar rabbit hole.

Feel hope

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“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

– Barack Obama

My London

Reading time: 1 minute

“You need to see London at night, particularly the theaters. But not just the night life. London itself looks best in the dark. It’s a pretty safe city, and you can walk in most places after sunset. It has a sedate and ghostly beauty. In the crepuscular kindness, you can see not just how she is, but how she once was, the layers of lives that have been lived here. Somebody with nothing better to do worked out that for every one of us living today, there are 15 ghosts. In most places you don’t notice them, but in London you do. The dead and the fictional ghosts of Sherlock Holmes and Falstaff, Oliver Twist, Wendy and the Lost Boys, all the kindly, garrulous ghosts that accompany you in the night. The river runs like dark silk through the heart of the city, and the bridges dance with light. There are corners of silence in the revelry of the West End and Soho, and in the inky shadows foxes and owls patrol Hyde Park, which is still illuminated by gaslight.”

– from My London, and Welcome to It by A.A. Gill. Beautiful writing, and the very definition of sonder. The world misses you.

I have a gramatically incorrect feeling

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They had the audacity to compose it in the key of G major, which, in Baroque music, is regarded as the “key of benediction” – connected to positive emotions such as contentment, gratitude and peace.

Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” Is the Most Depressing Song in Existence. An amazing breakdown of “I Gotta Feeling” by musical group The Black Eyed Peas (who probably peaked at “Weekend” ft. Esthero circa 2000).

Critical linking 02

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This week I have been consuming:

Helen Thayer

This week I am also thinking about:

  • Unlearning and how to figure out what you don’t know. Tough.
  • Latin. In particular the phrase, res ipsa loquitur, which means “the thing speaks for itself.” As spotted on my BrewDog pint.
  • The Greek word for statue is agalma which means delight. Statue, by contrast, is from the Latin statuere which means to set up. “This indicates different conceptions of art. But is art not the delight of senses and the satisfaction of mind?” [via]

Critical linking 01

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Content strategy reading list

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Kristina Halvorson is THE go-to expert on all things content strategy. When she talks, people listen (check out her new podcast), and when she asks, people respond. This week she asked her Twitter followers for their suggestions – what books should be on a content strategist’s bookshelf? They delivered, and some!

For your buying/browsing pleasure, I’ve popped them all into a spreadsheet with US/UK links for purchase 📝

The UX team of one

The five whys for your personal life

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The Five Whys

Ever had an uncomfortable run-in with someone, for example, a disagreement with a colleague, only for the same issue to pop up three months later? Sometimes it can be easy to fix a surface problem, and not look too much further into it. And as humans, we love taking the easy route.

Until of course, your problem springs up again. This problem could be a communication issue in a relationship, a mystery sports injury, or perhaps one of your more negative habits. But how to find a lasting solution?

The Five Whys is an iterative interrogative technique used to explore “the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem,” (Serrat, 2009 | PDF). It takes an issue, and drills five layers deep, asking why to find opportunities and lower-level causes. The technique was developed by Sakichi Toyoda for Toyota, but like many excellent models to come out of Toyota, it can be applied to the problems of everyday life, too.

There are three key things to remember about the powerful use of the Five Whys technique:

  1. Accurate and complete statements of problems – writing a problem down helps clarify it.
  2. Complete honesty in answering the questions – the truth about yourself and others!
  3. Clear determination to get to the root of a problem

Five is a good number to start with to ensure you are looking deep enough into a problem, plus you can use your hand as a visual/physical reference to count down the levels. Or you know, think of burgers – Five Guys – cheese, lettuce, pickle, patty, and bun. Done 🍔

The origins of Bluetooth

Reading time: 1 minute

Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson (born c. 910—died c. 987) was a king of Denmark and Norway, best known in his time for introducing Christianity to the country. In recent times, his legacy continues in the oddest of forms. wireless Bluetooth technology is named after him, and the symbol is composed of the two runes spelling out his initials RB. The logo is a bind rune merging the Runic letters Hagall and Bjarkan. Something to ponder the next time you connect your headphones to your phone. Beep-boop.

Bluetooth Rune

Via The Guardian: Boy unearths treasure of the Danish king Bluetooth in Germany