Clean Feedback Wraps – Ideal for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

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Feedback it’s the breakfast (lunch and dinner) of champions

It’s not always easy to successfully deliver (or hear) constructive feedback.

Avoid the criticism sandwich when giving feedbackDon’t give a praise sandwich…

Mary Kay Ash gets credit for the approach: “Sandwich every bit of criticism between two heavy layers of praise.” (Fries apparently are optional.)

This is just not a good idea. Not only does it taste like crap, but it’s also really not effective.

…Try a feedback wrap instead

Don’t give a praise sandwich...it tastes like shit Click To Tweet

In his M3.0 approach, Jurgen Appelo offers up a much better recipe, the Feedback Wrap. Here’s how it works:

  1. Provide/describe your context. For example,
    • “I was catching up on email in between Zoom meetings, feeling a bit rushed…”
  2. Offer your version of the “facts” – which are likely more your observations – what you’ve seen and/or heard
    • Strive to be free of judgments, labels, diagnoses, opinions, etc.
    • Be direct, timely, and specific – Avoid “Six months ago, I don’t remember all the details, but…”
    • Make it a description of what you think happened
  3. Express your emotions/feelings (yep, you might need to express a bit of vulnerability)
    • It’s not about being nice, or sugar-coating
    • Don’t stifle any intensity
    • Reveal the impact the person’s behavior had on you
  4. Explore needs, values, express empathy
    • “What I hope to get…”
    • “What I need…”
    • And then explore what the recipient needs. “What do you need?” (And then actively listen.)
  5. Then explore options together
    • Create connections and understanding
    • For example: “Here’s what is working for me…” and “What needs some work in my opinion…” (instead of “this is good” and “this is bad”)
    • Find out what the other person needs – maybe they are struggling to express their underlying needs.
    • Find out what you can do to help

Sometimes all it takes are small adjustments to make a big difference – on both sides of the table.

Clean Feedback

In her book From Contempt to Curiosity, Caitlin Walker offers a similar approach:

  1. Evidence: a description of what happened without any judgment, i.e., observable behavior
  2. Inference: what you thought about what had happened or what it meant to you
  3. Impact: The effect this combination of observable behavior and your inferences had on you

More from Caitlin here:

On the Receiving Side a Praise Sandwich?

If you find yourself getting feedback between two slices of praise, do your best to rephrase the “beef,” for example using the evidence/inference/impact model.
  • “Here’s what I’m hearing you observed…. And what that meant to you…. And this had the impact of…. Am I getting it?”
  • And “What would you like to happen?”

Want more?

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