Candor Helps, But How Much Help Do We Need?

Having recently read Jack Welch’s book “Winning”, I have been thinking about the many of Welch’s exceptionally valuable lessons from his many successful years in business.

Mr. Welch makes a clear and convincing argument for the importance Candor has in relationships but uses business as his primary example.

This begs the question, do successful business values and practices translate into our personal and political lives?

Well, like most areas of life – there is a good data, outdated data, and TMI – Too Much Information. There are also emotions and thoughts which transform data into Candor.

There is also a We Are on a Need To Know Basis and you may or may not qualify.

The trick is the line between not enough, enough, and too much when it comes to Candor.

Example – Yesterday, I had the unique and challenging experience of taking Nora, our youngest and third child, to her hair cut. Nora is now thirteen, shares less with her parents, and offers less candor than she used to in the past. HOWEVER, that does not even get her close to the average or median levels that most of us are used to in our relationships. Like I’m Not Even Kidding.

As she matures, so too does her filter.

Except when Nora’s Dad takes Nora for her hair cut.

As I drove and navigated, Nora punched my arm (Punch Buggy, No Punch Back) every time she saw a VW BeetleBug AND she navigated.

When I protested, she yelled “Stop YELLING AT ME!”

“But you’re hitting me…and I am trying to park!”

Finally we parked and I escorted her into the styling salon.

Surprised, Nora asked “Where are you going? Amber and I talk about…things.. and I don’t want you to hear us! Stay in the car.”

“By things, do you mean boys?”

“DUH! You can’t be in the room!”

“Well, I am going to check you in and then go grab a cup of coffee. I’m not sitting in the car.”

Really, I did not Need To Know much of anything regarding that conversation and it was a good day to sit outside.

God Bless Nora though – she had NO problem telling me exactly where she stood and, more importantly to her, where I should be. Message given. Message Received.

We were able to have a great time, bruised right arm notwithstanding.

Nora got her hair cut and had “Girls Time” with Amber, I got a great cup of coffee from Blue Mountain Coffees, and together we had some fun.

Candor Helps. The Fail Safe is usually further out than you think. If you ever have question as to where that line exists, apply the Nora Test – Just Say It inn terms that are clear, honest, and real without recrimination. Candor is about your feelings with shared data.

It can have a down side.

On the way home, while Nora was admiring her new Do, I casually lowered the passenger window to “freshen” her up a bit. “NOOOOOO!” Muwhahahahah.

No sooner was her hair blown up that she spied, yet another, VW BeetleBug and she pulverized my arm. AGAIN. This time, I was able to laugh about it.

All because we were safe to say and do what was acceptable. It was out there.


Just say it. Really.

Candor helps.

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Chris Saxman

About Chris Saxman

Father of four, small business leader, retired politician, and Executive Committee member and former Chairman of an international trade association, Chris Saxman delivers strategy and insight as a political coach and keynote speaker. Contact Chris.

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