In today’s fast-paced and dynamic work environment, building strong relationships with our colleagues and leaders is more important than ever before. Strong relationships help us work more efficiently, collaborate better and achieve our goals faster. However, building strong relationships is not always easy, especially when we are dealing with interpersonal conflicts and misunderstandings. One of the most powerful tools in our arsenal to build strong relationships is candor.

Candor is the act of being open, honest, and transparent with our colleagues and leaders. It is about revealing our thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or criticism. Candor helps us create a culture of trust, respect, and authenticity, which are essential ingredients in building strong relationships. In fact, research has shown that teams that encourage candor among their members are more productive, innovative, and resilient.

Questioning Your Candor

I recently worked with two leaders in an organization who were engaged in a high degree of conflict with each other. During our first meeting together, they both shared that they respected each other and had a high degree of admiration for each other. Of course, they had not communicated this to each other previously, and this had contributed to their interpersonal conflict. Once they started to share their thoughts and feelings candidly, they were able to work through their issues and develop a stronger relationship based on a deeper understanding of each other.

The opposite of candor is withholding. I frequently work with groups where their challenges are caused or exacerbated by withholding. When we withhold our thoughts and feelings, we create barriers that prevent us from connecting with others, and we miss out on opportunities to build strong relationships. Withholding also creates a culture of mistrust and suspicion, which can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings.

When we reveal our ideas and feelings to our colleagues, it allows us to align faster, avoid misunderstandings, and even generate new ideas and options. Candor helps us create an environment where everyone feels heard and valued, and where everyone has a voice in the decision-making process. Having that psychological safety helps to foster a sense of ownership and accountability, which are crucial components of a high-performing team. In fact, this is one of the main themes we find ourselves coming back to again and again in our executive coaching workshops.

Setting Up to Succeed

So, how can we cultivate candor in our workplace? Here are a few tips to get started:

1. Lead by Example

As a leader, it’s important to model the behavior you want to see in your team. Be open, honest, and transparent in your communications with your team members, and encourage them to do the same.

2. Create a Safe Space for Candor

Encourage your team members to share their thoughts and ideas without fear of judgment or criticism. Make it clear that all ideas are welcome and valued, even if they are not ultimately adopted.

3. Listen Actively

When someone shares their thoughts or feelings, listen attentively and without interruption. Ask open-ended questions to clarify their points and show that you are genuinely interested in their perspective.

4. Provide Constructive Feedback

When you provide feedback, be specific, timely and constructive. Focus on the behaviour or performance, rather than the person, and provide actionable suggestions for improvement.

Candor is a powerful tool that can help us build strong relationships, create a culture of trust and respect, and achieve our goals faster. By cultivating a culture of candor in our workplace, we create an environment where everyone feels heard and valued, and where everyone has a voice in the decision-making process.

How Is Your Candor?

By implementing these 4 tips, you will be well on your way to improving your Candor in the workplace, and creating a culture of trust and open-mindedness in your organization. If you are looking to take things one step further, check out our business coaching workshops where we bring teams together to align on and explore leadership skills like Candor.