Stop Using the “sandwich Method” for Feedback

The sandwich feedback method, where you suppress criticism between compliments in order to iron it out, has already been worked out, and everyone knows it. Most of us cringe when we hear someone suggest it, and even when it works, it’s obvious. Adam Grant, author and professor, says it’s time to just give it up and we agree.

We’ve mentioned this before , and of course giving up the method isn’t a reason to be a jerk when you criticize , but most of us can see through the feedback “sandwich” (sometimes called the ” hamburger method “) for what it is, and instead would have appreciated a more direct honesty.

Grant explains:

But when I looked at the data , I realized that the feedback sandwich is not as good as it looks.

Problem 1: Positive reviews go unheeded. When people hear praise in feedback, they brace themselves. They wait for the second shoe to fall, which makes the opening compliment seem insincere. You didn’t really mean it; you were just trying to soften the blow.

Problem 2: If you avoid this risk and can be honest about the positives, they can drown out the negative. Research shows that the effects of primacy and novelty are very strong: we often remember what happens first and last in a conversation, ignoring the middle. When you start and end with positive feedback, criticism is all too easy to bury or discount.

A compliment sandwich may please the giver, but it won’t help the recipient.

He then gives some tips to help you provide more credible, direct, and honest feedback, especially when it’s difficult to give. Some of them start out by simply asking the person if they want to – after all, sometimes people don’t want to hear what you have to say, even if you know what you have to tell them. Regardless, he notes that every time he is asked, no one seriously refuses.

He also suggests taking yourself off the pedestal when giving feedback — you are giving your opinions and points of view rather than putting yourself in a better position. In this regard, he also recommends making your review a conversation rather than a monologue, even if you might be tempted to just have your say and be done with it. All good suggestions, especially the next time your coworkers or family members ask your opinion about something or your thoughts on their work.

Stop Serving Your Feedback Sandwich | LinkedIn


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