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Combining Metaskills & Radical Candor for meaningful relationships

Before my summer break, I was very lucky to co-train with Bob Galen (/1/) in two leadership trainings. To be honest: Co-training is probably the wrong verb. A better word would be: co-relished.

Besides his years, decades (centuries, millenniums?) of experience with leadership responsibilities, Bob is strong in creating - and I’m not exaggerating - an atmosphere, that I rarely witness in workshops. For those of you who want to learn how to create psychological safety (/2/) in workshops or within your teams or in your organization, please take the chance to book a training with him.  (/1/)

I hope, I can take a leaf out of his book in the future and in this blog post I’d like to describe two concepts, I’ll steal from him. And share them with you. They work great together. One concept is fairly known, „Radical Candor“ by Kim Scott, the other one, „Metaskill“ by Amy Mindell, is maybe new to you.


Amy Mindell wrote a book called „Metaskills“ (/3/). Her book „explores the ways that therapists express, through their feeling attitudes, their fundamental beliefs about life.“ (/4/) She raises these underlying feelings to skills, that must and can be studied and cultivated. This is not just useful for therapists, it’s very powerful for (agile) coaches, Scrum Masters, leaders as well. Attitudes we have toward people create a strong atmosphere. Good ideas using them with a wrong feeling produces adverse effects.

In her book she describes some metaskills and how we can use them in a conscious way. Here are some examples for metaskills:
  • Compassion: means attending to all the aspects of our experience and consciously allowing each to unfold.
  • Recycling: beginner’s mind - open and inquisitive attitude. We notice it, pick it up and, cook it until its gold or secret is revealed.
  • Playfulness: arise in those moments when we are inquisitive and excited about life. Brings with it a sense of humor! (This is my favorite!)
Try this: Before the next meeting you’ll have, ask yourself: How do you want to show up today (in this meeting)? Pick one of these examples and observe, how your own observations and reactions might change. (And please leave a comment below.)

Radical Candor

You might have heard about „Radical Candor“ by Kim Scott. (/5/) Kim worked at and for several (slightly important) tech companies, Google, Apple, Twitter. The second half of her book provides some great insights about the companies' cultures.

Radical Candor is a concept, how we can use frequent 2-3 minutes conversations, exchanging better feedback (/6/). We have radical candid conversations, when we care personally about the person we’re having a conversations with and when we’re challenging this person directly, so that she can grow. Caring personally means: Bringing your whole self to work, caring about the people around you as human beings. It's not just business, it's deeply personal.

It’s important to have frequent 2-3 minutes conversations at least every week, instead of waiting for an occasion for an one-hour, heavy „feedback conversation“. Kim say’s: This is not a root-canal surgery, it’s best to establish this as a habit, like brushing your teeth.

If you’re interested in how this concept works, you might watch her talk from 2016, see (/5/) or read her book or listen to her Radical Candor Podcast.

How to start

  • If you’re in a culture, where open conversations are difficult, and you want to start with this concept, it might be good to ask for radical candid feedback first.
  • For an easier entry and to practice, have a conversation with somebody you trust most. Ask her a question, that invites her to give open feedback. This might be the moment, when you experiment with a metaskill. I recommend „compassion“ or „recycling“ and maybe not „playfulness“ in your first conversations.
  • I like Kim’s question as a starter: „What could I do or stop doing to make working with me easier for you?“ Please experiment with your own questions. Good questions produce useful feedback for you and feel natural.
  • The important part is now: Shut up & wait. At least for a couple of seconds. Count to six before you show any reaction. Listen carefully.
  • And then reward the other person for her feedback. (Learn about what can be changed. Act on it - if the feedback is appropriate.)
I recommend this way first: Getting radical candid feedback first and recognize, how this feedback will affect you. How do you react emotionally? Then you probably get a better feeling, how your own feedback will land for people.

Why is this all important?

We're all working more in teams, in a self-organized fashion. We want to work more autonomously with less bureaucracy, so it's easier to deliver results. There is no one, who will resolve situations or relationship issues for us. This entails, that we are all working as leaders. We're all responsible to create this environment. These concepts might help.



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