The feedback sandwich, a staple of the workplace and writers' groups, has fallen out of favor. Even Human Resources people, who foisted it on us in the first place, diss it now. The problem is, once a person develops a taste for the feedback sandwich, the open-faced variety or, worse, a slab of mystery meat on a plate, doesn't satisfy.
|Ooh, shiny mailbox!|
Remember the recipe for a feedback sandwich? A supervisor, co-worker, or critique partner delivers criticism by sandwiching it between two positive comments. A writer might hear the following from critique partner: "You write believable characters. I wish you'd give those characters something to do besides guzzle coffee and think about the big mistake they made long ago. Hey, good job conveying a sense of place in a sentence or two."
If you're like me, you brace yourself for bad news as soon as you hear a compliment. Maybe you're a skeptic and consider the praise nothing more than a delivery system for the criticism. Maybe you think a nice comment about your silver ballet flats has nothing whatsoever to do with your ability to craft a compelling press release about the city's recycling program.
The feedback sandwich may be hard to swallow at first, but I contend it causes less indigestion later.
After the fact, isn't it nice to take a break from stewing about the criticism and recall the words of praise even if you're not 100 percent sure they were sincere? Wow! I may not contribute a thing at team meetings, but I'm always prompt and work past quitting time without complaint.
Go on, make fun of the praise sandwich. You, too, will miss it if it goes the way of the dinosaur.
Last week, I opened a letter from my homeowners' association and was surprised by its one and only message: Paint your mailbox.
I read the thing three times looking for a snippet of praise for my roses-for-dummies (Knock-Outs) that bloomed lushly or the pot by the front gate planted with a thriller (a tall grass), a filler (cora vinca), and a spiller (potato vine). Did the HOA notice the society garlic I planted where I lost an agapanthus to drought?
No, no, and no.
Sunday morning, I painted my mailbox. I began the task grudgingly, but at some point between the initial sanding and the final stroke with black semi-gloss, I let go of my resentment. My roses deserve a shiny mailbox.
Thanks, HOA for the work you do to make sure our neighborhood looks nice. Don't be afraid to point out what people are doing right and praise it since a focus-on-the-negative approach often backfires. Hey, nice letterhead!
A person whose biggest problem is a letter from the HOA about her mailbox is lucky, indeed. Here, the Pioneer Woman, Oklahoma-based blogger and cookbook author Ree Drummond, lists ways to help the tornado victims in Moore and Oklahoma City.