In my youth I saw candor as a two-edged sword. Each time I used it, I ended up cutting myself. As I result, I tried to keep my hands off of it as much as I could. Although not always successful, candor was something to be avoided at all costs because expressing it hurt me far more than it helped others.
After many miles, I have come to appreciate that candor is not good or bad in itself. There are two critical components that shape its impact. The first is intent. The second is compassion.
In a working relationship I have where candor is essential, Life likes to remind me that my candor is most often seen through the lens of trust and perceived intent. If others trust what they think my intent is, candor is seen as helpful insights. When trust is missing, candor appears as a weapon of destruction being used with malicious intent. Trust shapes the perception of intent.
Life also likes to remind me that timing and context are crucial. Being candid to someone that does not be s/he has a choice is often not helpful. Telling someone what is obvious makes the pain of the moment even more intense. Being candid with someone is looking for guidance, reaching for more, can provide a foundation for growth and change. Often I find myself want to be candid, as if telling someone else something I already know will reinforce the truth within me. It is a puzzling situation. If I know it, why do I need to express it? Compassion reminds me that candor is a priceless gift that should be sparingly given without string.
When trust and compassion team up, look out! Amazing things happen when there is an opportunity to “let me give you some good advice; I’m looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight.” (Psalm 32.8) In the working relationship where candor is crucial, trust and compassion are present. As I result, I find myself being embraced by hope, comforted by collaboration. I like this space.