Clean Feedback Wraps – Ideal for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner

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 tastes like shit Share on X

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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