Hacks, or lifehacks, are clever or quick ways to help simplify or improve a problem. As of this month, I’ve renamed my monthly QuickTips posts “Conflict Hacks.”
We’ve all been the giver or receiver of a feedback sandwich at some point. A feedback sandwich goes like this:
First slice of bread: “Hey, Ana, good work job on those sections of the handbook you’re drafting–it’s clear you’re putting real effort into it.”
The sandwich meat: “I wanted you to know that a few department heads have had strong reactions to your proposed policy on refunds. You need to smooth some feathers and figure out what needs to be changed in the wording.”
Second slice of bread: “But, overall, really nice work, Ana.”
If you’re Ana, can you honestly tell me you paid any real attention to either piece of bread? You knew the bread was just there to soften the tough feedback.
Sandwiching diminishes the positive feedback—relegates it to the importance of a piece of sliced bread. And it doesn’t soften or disguise the hard feedback. It may even amplify the hard feedback because the speaker seems so interested in trying to make you feel better about it.
Let’s stop making feedback sandwiches.