The Feedback Sandwich

The Feedback Sandwich… does it really work? What is the effect on you when you hear someone give you praise and then criticise you and finish it off with some gilb positive comment? How authentic does it sound? What are your thoughts about this? (A Feedback sandwich is where criticism is sandwiched between praise and is often taught to managers so that they can give “useful” feedback to their staff members.) Personally I think this type of sandwich needs to go into the dustbin.
“Why?” you may ask. What we focus is what we get more of. So if we focus on the negative in people then that’s all we notice and our feedback to them is based on our filters of what we perceive as wrong. And possibly if we hear criticism about something then we may focus on this and do more of it. It also can be quite demoralising.

In Februyogaary I was privileged to go to India for a 10 day NLP trainer the trainer programme with Sue Knight. Early each morning just as the sun was rising, I cycled down to Yoga on the beach, stretching and relaxing with the sound of the crashing waves and the screech of the birds. Sometimes I’d then float in the warm sea –  all before 8:30am. The daily workshops were amazing. Each day was like opening up a treasure chest of new experiences and learning. The group were full of warmth, sharing their thoughts with light-bulbs sparking new ideas for others.


Learnings from India

One of my biggest learnings was from many of the India people present on the workshop. They focussed on the excellence in others and gave insightful, thoughtful and loving feedback. It was incredible. It seemed as if they sat and really thought about each person – as if they dissected each word or action, searching and finding the hidden gems and then holding them up high. If there were room for improvements they would then ask clean and open questions, not dirtying the conversation with criticism from their own perspective. They allowed the person to discover his/her own learning.

This way of receiving feedback was such a humbling experience for me. It made me cringe with embarrassment when I think back to my corporate days of giving feedback sandwiches that were not succulent, fresh and inviting; more like dry, mouldy and off-putting.

So my own Light bulb is that I focus on people’s excellence – what they do and say that is wonderful. It makes such a difference.

Focussing on Excellence

Just recently I was at a network meeting and I noticed that one of the members share a different viewpoint from the rest of the group. His way of thinking was really positive and inspiring. He achieved something that everyone else avoided by making it into a game. After giving him this feedback, he interacted far more with the group; in fact a number of people commented that he was on fire – and he shared many more ideas.

Unacceptable Behaviour?

Now you may be thinking – “Hang on Lindsey, what if someone’s behaviour is not acceptable”. Then you can inform them of the outcome of their behaviour and ask if this is what they intended. And then encourage them to decide what changes they need to do – this can get buy-in and it’s more empowering for them.

And you may be thinking – “Lindsey, you usually talk about Confidence – what’s happening?” By giving people positive feedback, then you are enabling them to grow their self-esteem. There’s enough negativity around the world – just listen to the news – it’s all about crisis, bad weather, killings, debt, doom and gloom. Brighten up the world a bit and help someone else feel good about themselves.

Tip of this week

So my tip is for this week, focus on people’s strengths, share what you noticed with them, say from your heart – and notice the difference.

Part of the Coaching process with Lindsey is that she holds the mirror up to you and give feedback with integrity.

Lindsey Reed is an experienced coach who specialises in enabling people to have more confidence in their lives. If you experience times of low self-esteem, self-doubt and lack in confidence, email or call 01832 280168 to see how your personal and working life will be improved

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