Bring Your Whole Self to Work with Radical Candor

Noelle Ihli

Radical Candor Author Kim Scott Reveals How Managers Can Benefit from Infusing More Humanity into the Workplace

Be professional. Don’t bring your personal baggage to work. Those directives might pop into your head as you walk into the office after a sleepless night with a fussy baby or a flare-up of chronic pain.

But according to Kim Scott, attempting to conceal your humanity doesn’t help you—or your team. Regarding the notion of “keeping things professional, she says, “That advice denies a basic humanity that everyone possesses. It makes people hate going to work.”

Keep reading to learn how to turn your humanity into a superpower with radical candor.

What Radical Candor Is—And Isn’t

Radical candor is an approach to leadership that cuts through insincerity and embraces vulnerability, honesty, and open lines of communication. It’s about embracing your humanity (and your team members’ humanity!) as a strength, not a liability. And acknowledging that while trust and vulnerability are risky, mistrust and emotional dishonesty are riskier. 

Radical candor allows you to share difficult personal information while maintaining professionalism—no shame or apologies necessary. Just an acknowledgment that you’re extra tired today and for good reason.

Scott quickly points out that radical candor is not an excuse to be aggressive, nit-picky, or emotionally manipulative! There’s a big difference between vulnerability that accepts your humanity—and an unfiltered stream of unkind or unproductive thoughts. 

Benefits of Bringing Your Whole Self to Work

By modeling radical candor, you encourage team members to see you as a fellow human first and their manager second. And to share their personal and professional setbacks without fear of reprisal. This behavior sets the stage for deeper emotional connections and a more fulfilling work life. 

Radical candor also builds trust in the workplace.  When team members know they can count on you to give it to them straight if a problem’s brewing, they’re more likely to return the favor. And colleagues who honestly communicate tend to rely on each other more.

Tips for Showing Up at Work More Authentically 

Wondering where to start in your quest to bring your whole self to work? Scott offers three essential tips: 

  1. Model vulnerability. Practice putting your own mistakes, challenges, and learning on the table—and encourage employees to do the same. When you model vulnerability, you communicate that it’s safe to be human and make mistakes in the workplace.


  1. Admit when you’re having a bad day. It can be scary to acknowledge that you aren’t feeling your best. Will your teammates judge you? Will they see you as less competent? Fortunately, most people appreciate how hard it is to admit that you’re having a tough day. Everyone’s been there—even managers.

  2. Create a safe space for everyone to be human at work. Practice actively listening and responding to employees with compassion if they open up about personal challenges or making a mistake. This two-way street builds a culture of radical candor that benefits everyone.

Reflect and Apply

Like other goals and habits, developing radical candor takes time, patience, and consistency. 

Choose one of Kim Scott’s tips to practice bringing your whole self to work this week. Commit to your goal on Twitter using #RadicalCandor, and we’ll help you stay accountable!

About the author

Noelle is a content creator, author, and editor. She lives in Idaho with her husband, two sons, and two cats. When she's not writing, she's either reading a good book or scaring herself with true-crime documentaries.

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