Civility vs. Candor – It’s not an either/or Equation

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“You cannot choose civility over candor. Civility is vital, but without candor it is useless.” - Dr. Todd Dewett


Here is a harsh truth I see in many teams. Otherwise competent professionals can’t bring themselves to discuss the most basic realities that define their teams: members who behave rudely, members who produce poor quality work, members who are not completely honest about issues, sacred cows that have existed in the group for years…


This is unfortunate since getting past these barriers is required for real performance improvement.


You cannot choose civility over candor. Civility is vital, but without candor it is useless. Let me be specific. When I say candor I am referring to positive, as-needed, on-the-fly, performance-related, frank and honest conversation. Great conversation is never heavily nuanced, political, or politically correct – and in the best conversations there is very little beating around the bush. The main goal is not to save someone’s feelings, but to get the point across accurately so that everyone gets it immediately. With few exceptions, great teams choose candor over civility.


In order to successfully embrace candor as a team norm, keep a few things in mind. First, do your best to address issues, not people – and

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