Candor and better communication

Fascinating piece from Eric Ravenscraft on how “a little controlled hostility” can help resolve disagreements when confronting others:

As business blog Entrepreneur points out, confrontation is designed to smooth over conflict between two people. If your method of resolving conflict is to sugarcoat it so much that the other person doesn’t understand that it’s a big deal to begin with (or worse, thinks you’re just joking!) then nothing actually gets solved. You’re annoyed enough to speak up, so act like it:

I think candor or frankness are less complicated ways to think about this than “controlled hostility.” But I like the overall point because candor is something I still struggle with and am working to improve. I think candor is one of the undervalued traits of our time.

This reminded me of the February New Yorker interview with Jony Ive where he’s talking about an exchange with Steve Jobs:

Jobs’s taste for merciless criticism was notorious; Ive recalled that, years ago, after seeing colleagues crushed, he protested. Jobs replied, “Why would you be vague?,” arguing that ambiguity was a form of selfishness: “You don’t care about how they feel! You’re being vain, you want them to like you.” Ive was furious, but came to agree. “It’s really demeaning to think that, in this deep desire to be liked, you’ve compromised giving clear, unambiguous feedback,” he said.

Receiving candid, clear, unambiguous feedback can be rough. But I crave it more than the airy pleasantness that dominates so much of our lives.


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