The other day I wrote about radical candor and what I believe to be the appropriate way for its nuanced use. Another facet of "radical" behavior in terms of communicating and psychology is that of radical acceptance. While radical acceptance is typically used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (which comes highly recommended by me, by the way), I believe it can be a tool used in many of life's situations, including in the product design sphere.
“Radical acceptance rests on letting go the illusion of control and a willingness to notice and accept things as they are right now, without judging.” — Marsha Linehan
In continuing my efforts to write better and write more often, my latest Medium post is about how we can design with radical acceptance, addressing the following topics:
At the crux of it, I believe discerning the difference between the uncomfortable and the intolerable will allow us to grow and enhance our teams, our work, and our own individual well-being.
To read more about radical acceptance and its role in our day-to-day product design environment, hit the link below!
Several weeks ago, I shared the above on LinkedIn, reflecting on my time both as a design lead and a gung fu instructor. If I am quite honest, it's most likely my Judeo-Christian upbringing as much the Confucianism I was raised within that affects this the strongest, but my captivation with Existentialism and Buddhism was in part due to its universal emphasis on the law of reciprocity, the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated, the so-called Golden Rule.
As stated by Jean-Paul Sartre:
And while Sartre speaks to the philosophy of humanity in regards to the golden rule, I wanted to explore further, interested in extending this notion into the practical constraints of my day-to-day world. Doing so, I stumbled upon this piece, New Managers Need a Philosophy About How They’ll Lead:
This quote stands out to me in particular, because it focuses on two things important to me and that I hope to see of more in the world:
People and Purpose
Despite my love for crafting products and services, I ultimately believe it's about the people who make them and the people who use them. Until a day comes when our labor is replaced by that of automatons, people are still the success of an organization, and purpose is what drives them. Whether it be financial gain, meaning, making something, or any myriad of significant reasons, people and their reasons are what makes things possible. I believe that serving those we lead is a large part of achieving anything great in this world.
A popular article circulated not too long ago speaking to the notion of radical candor: honest, potentially uncomfortable feedback in the effort towards providing effective guidance and growth.
And while many people long for guidance and growth, many squirm at the idea of discomfort inherently related to critique and criticism. In this piece, Kim Scott experiences her boss telling her outright something she didn’t expect to hear:
People I spoke to shared their enthusiasm for Scott’s talk, all for unfiltered candor. Of course, our weaknesses should be exposed and improved upon—being coy about such matters helps no one.
I am not here to argue the validity of radical candor. Kim Scott and the article above details the use-case very well. What I am prepared to pontificate upon, however, is the specificity of candor’s use as a tool fit for specific circumstances, specific times, with specific sets of parameters for effective delivery and outcomes. First and foremost, radical candor really only works well when there is trust.
Candor Comes with Trust
Recently, during training practice, our Muay Thai coach reminded us that learning to know our partners was paramount to success in our overall martial education. That training was another form of relating and communicating, and like any other process of relating, we should use the appropriate skill-sets and our emotional intelligence when necessary.
If you’ve read my other work, you know I see similarities between training martial arts as I do with the design process.