Radical candor and effective confrontations with Soundari Mukherjea

candid craic communication storytelling Jun 24, 2021

In this Candid Craic, we talk to Soundari Mukherjea about her work in business storytelling and her interest in radical candor.

We hear how Soundari has been motivated by her recognition that humans, the storytelling animal, have become fearful of telling meaningful stories in organisations, seeing storytelling as a complex skill beyond their talent set. We learn how she assuages those fears and reconnects people to each other and the organisational mission through co-created and co-told stories and narratives.

We look at the power of stories and the continuing impact of stories that happened prior to living memory; the ways in which leaders can trigger stories, tell stories, and listen to stories; the importance of enabling and allowing multiple interpretations of these stories; and how stories have always been the glue sticking data points together.

We then turn to radical candor, learning how Soundari's experience with the challenges ethnic minorities face in Hong Kong's educational institutions got her interested in the subject, and how she employs it to help these students have courageous conversations and effective confrontations in difficult and emotionally-charged situations.

We then examine some of the more complex elements of radical candor, including the role of power asymmetries and cultural context, and the danger of powerful leaders not taking the time to understand the context of the situation potentially causing great harm in employees through an unskilled use of radical candor - albeit with the best of intentions. This gives us an opportunity to return to story, and examine how a well-crafted story from the less powerful employee can create the cultural context to enable better decision-making.

00:15 Hello Soundari
01:24 Just what is it that Soundari does? Business Storytelling in Context
04:22 Connecting Narratives to People in Low-Attention Environments
07:50 The Fear of the Art of Storytelling in today's Organisational Cultures
13:37 The Power of Old Stories
18:58 Story Triggering, Story Telling, Story Listening & Story Circles
25:27 Why Stories? Because Data doesn't have a Soul
32:44 Courageous Conversations, Effective Confrontations & Radical Candor
39:20 Power Dynamics and Cultural Context in Radical Candor
47:18 The Harm of Context-Free Candor - and the Storytelling Response
56:22 The Nine Trillion Dollar Question