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Monday, 23 May 2016 05:14

Stop serving the sh!t sandwiches. They taste like sh!t.

Some of us may have been taught the ‘sandwich method’ (Daniels 2009) or the ‘hamburger method’ to deliver feedback or have a tough conversation. The basic concept is to start with a compliment, then deliver the negative, and finish with a compliment.

It may sound something like; “Hey, I really like working with you.  But not everyone feels the same about your style.  You will need to work on it as you come across as aggressive.  But hey, I did love the presentation you delivered last week”.

That’s just a sh!t sandwich.

This was what we knew and what many well meaning organisations and/or trainers had taught us. 

So why did we deliver feedback this way?

  • We thought it would land better and soften the blow
  • We thought it would preserve the relationship
  • We thought the balance of both in one conversation was important

However, the result of the ‘sandwich’ is often the complete opposite of our initial intent. 

The Southeastern Oklahoma State University in their paper; ‘The sandwich feedback method: Not very tasty’ studied why this method is ineffective.  This data and my experience tells us that this method leaves a sour taste in our mouths because;

  • The receiver is confused about the issue and an improvement is unlikely
  • It can lead to loss of respect in the relationships as there is a lack of courage to deliver news with clarity
  • It’s often creating an expectation of negative feedback to always come after something positive
  • It decreases the worth of the positive feedback given

Delivering feedback as a sandwich is about as effective as taking Panadol to fix a broken arm.

So next time you go to package constructive feedback with a ‘sesame seed bun’ in the hope it will be received better…. Don’t.  There is a better way and when done well it not only improves the issue, it also builds trust and respect. 

To learn more subscribe to Georgia’s weekly blogs by Staying Connected or get yourself a copy of her book Fixing Feedback.




Last modified on Monday, 23 May 2016 05:34

About Georgia

Georgia is obsessed with the power of great communication. She knows how great communication leads to great collaboration and helps create outstanding cultures.


Email: niki@georgiamurch.com

Phone: 0402 119 333

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