Some feedback tricks are just destructive

Have you heard the feedback trick, “Sandwich negative feedback between two positive pieces of feedback”? But what usually happens?

They hear the first comment with suspicion, thinking “What’s coming that’s so bad you need to butter me up first?”. And they probably won’t even hear the other positive comment, because they’re still reeling from the negative feedback.

But it’s still a good model! Positive comments should be given more liberally than negative ones. Just don’t try to trick them.

Tell them that you’d like to give some feedback, both positive and negative. Ask them if that’s ok. Tell them, “Ok, let me tell you some things i think you did really well.” Make sure they understand. Get them to explain it back to you. Then do the same with the negative.

Then tell them your concerns, “I’m concerned that you might go away from this conversation only remembering the negative… Is that a likely possibility? do you remember the positive things we talked about?”

It’s just about putting everything on the table. both your feedback, and your method of delivery, and your concerns about how they’ll hear it.

Because the thing that makes feedback tricks destructive is allowing people to think (assume) that you’re not being honest.