Caroline shares her thoughts on Polite Insistence and a video she made for Cornell on building Endurance.
Happy October, friends!
I hope the transition to a more in-person work and life, and a new back-to-school routine for many, have been kind to you. This fall started off with a devastating flood everywhere near where I live, and so many of my friends and clients were affected. But no one is complaining, given the gravity of the disaster including the loss of several lives, and counting their blessings instead.
Even with all the craziness, my kids seem very happy to be back in school in person with their masks on and hanging out with their friends. And after working entirely on Zoom since March of 2020, I’ve all of a sudden found myself booked every week for in-person and hybrid facilitation work in September and most of October. If you are one of my individual coaching clients, please be proactive and schedule your sessions ahead of time, because unfortunately, I will not be able to follow up with you this fall, even if I miss you! While learning to work in person again and in a new way, there have been lots of awkward and weird moments with mask protocols, windows (or not!), and having to accommodate folks last minute by Zoom who were supposed to attend in person. Lots of lessons learned too. Let me know if you want to talk through what could go wrong in these in-person meetings!
Polite Insistence, aka Radical Candor
In a span of eight days this fall, I ran three workshops for three different organizations on giving and receiving feedback with an emphasis on the remote and hybrid work setting. Clearly, that’s the topic on lots of people’s minds. I anchored all three workshops around the Radical Candor framework, which I wrote about in my January Note. I am still learning how to give great workshops (personally, I love one-on-one coaching sessions the most.) so I tend to over-prepare in a way. To get ready, I listened to the Radical Candor book on Audible and all the podcast episodes again for a whole week, as I went about my day folding my laundry and making dinner. My son casually walked by me one night saying, "Oh Radical Candor. That's your favorite book." I balked at the boy, clarifying that while I can’t choose just one favorite book because I have so many books I love, Radical Candor is NOT my favorite piece of literature. He waved his crazy mom away and walked back to his room. Haha.
my boy and me
Even if it’s not my favorite, it brings a lot of common sense and a thoughtful approach to giving and receiving feedback in order to help us grow professionally and get the work done.
An idea that resonated with me a whole lot this time around was adapting the Radical Candor principle to the cultural context for the team you are working with. For example, Kim Scott, the author of Radical Candor, says that the words “Radical Candor” sounded too bold for her team in Japan when she tried to implement it. When she changed the wording to “Polite Insistence” instead, her Japanese colleagues embraced the term, equating “polite” with “care personally,” perhaps a sign of personal respect, and “insistence” as the idea of being clear and persistent about something that needed to be addressed.
For one of the workshops, I actually developed a little checklist for thinking through a feedback conversation. Let me know if you want to use it. :)
Aside from the flooding situation, I have had several friends and clients in the past month that are dealing with the sudden illness of family members and other difficult challenges. It has been a long, hard stretch of eighteen months for everyone, and any time new hard things happen it can feel like we might just break. What we thought was a challenging sprint is perhaps a very long run or even a walk and requires a different strategy to get through. To help you rethink how you want to be in our second year of living with COVID and related difficulties while dealing with everything else going on in our lives, I want to share a video I contributed to Cornell’s Women’s Entrepreneurship certification program over the summer.
Resiliency is your ability to bounce back after something really hard happens to you. Over the span of the past months, we have talked a lot about resiliency during COVID but we also need to talk about endurance. Endurance is your ability to withstand hardship over a longer period. This is a concept I learned from my work with Chief. Next month, I will share the other video on being help-able, another one of my often discussed coaching topics.
Going back to work in person, I have had to basically learn to wear high heels again (OK, I didn’t have to but I like feeling a little bit taller, especially in a professional setting. Haha.) and I leave my house with a giant tote bag stuffed like I’m going away for the weekend. I‘ve forgotten how to live outside my house where everything is within reach! Manhattan is so alive and bustling again, and at least here in New York, it seems like folks are eager to get people together in-person at work and at play before the weather gets colder, and the COVID situation may worsen. I heard from a colleague in the Bay area that things are not nearly as opened up out west. How are things where you are?
Like others, I’m rethinking how I work as I return to in-person work. And after going from one shared office to another in the past by using the Croissant app, which was great for me then, I’ve finally invested in signing up for a desk in a pretty office space near the beautiful Bryant Park in Midtown. As I began sharing with my clients, I will be keeping my individual sessions to mostly Zoom and phone even after the pandemic is officially over, with occasional in-person meetings. That means I will have less need to run all over Manhattan, and it makes sense for me to work out of one location that is most convenient to my commute. I also began using that space for facilitation work this month.
How is COVID changing the way you are working? Please write back and let me know how you are doing, and take care of yourself.