Have you noticed that when you genuinely compliment or praise someone for something, they have a hard time fully accepting it? It seems when people start to hear something nice/good about themselves they begin to brace themselves for the inevitable follow-up of …BUT!

I think we should blame the sandwich for this lack of acceptance and appreciation.Slide1

When I first entered the business world I was taught the Sandwich Approach of giving constructive feedback, which essentially means bookending your key message (the important, real, honest, information) with a light, fluffy feel good message. The purpose of this technique is to help lessen the impact of the constructive feedback and keep the person motivated – but the communication is confusing because there are multiple messages in one conversation. A good message, then bad message, then a good message again.

The problem with this technique is two-fold; (1) the perception that “constructive” feedback is negative, and (2) assumes that one conversation can effectively deliver a message that is fully understood.

First, when it comes to constructive feedback, there is only one type of constructive feedback and that is “constructive”. The intent of any constructive feedback is to provide thoughts and observations around performance in order to support the growth and development of another person. There are two ways to deliver constructive feedback, either through positive(celebrating) or negative(improvement) messaging.

Second, the most effective way to deliver a message in any conversation is to deal with only with the one topic. More specifically having a clear purpose and outcome for the delivery of the constructive feedback.

There are three issues with the Sandwich Feedback Approach:

  1. Lost Impact: because both praise and criticism has been provided, the true impact of your constructive feedback has been lost.
  2. Missing the Positive: because people tend to hear only the negative, they do not hear any genuine positive feedback that has been given.
  3. Lost Trust: because there is always a “BUT” to the positive, people start to lose trust in the person delivering the feedback.

Throw out the bread slices today! Start providing feedback, whether it is positive or negative, with a specific purpose and outcome for your message and watch how your conversations become more meaningful and your relationships strengthen.