My e-diary, Volume infinity and beyond
2001-04-18 22:02:41 (UTC)

A good sandwich is hard to find

Journal 19, entry 2, Wednesday April 18th, 2001

Dear Journal,

Well I got here early to work today, to get things
accomplished, and it seems that no matter how hard I try, I
can't please everybody. Why is it that some people just
don't know how to lead or inspire?

Very simply, here is how you give negative feedback. This
formula works well in every aspect of life, no matter
whether it is work-related, school-related, personal
relationship-related, or family-related:

Step one: Tell the person something nice.
Step two: Mention the specific flaw that you have with the
person, in such a way that does not use words that are
negative, insulting, or make the person want to pick up a
stapler and throw it hard at your forehead.
Step three: Tell the person something nice.

This is called the "sandwich" approach to feedback, and
believe me, it works.

Let's take an example. Say you are 14 and female (as seem
to be many of the diary writers on this web site). Say you
are mad at your father because he incessantly bothers you
about the amount of time you spend on the computer. Which
of the following scenarios seems more effective?

Scenario A:

You: Dad, I hate you! You're an inconsiderate nincompoop
and just leave me alone! (Slam door)
Dad: You're grounded.

Scenario B:

You: Dad, I love you. I realize you are just concerned
that I get my school work done, but you have to let me make
my own decisions about how I spend my time, because I will
only learn that way. But I understand why you might be
Dad: OK....

Well, maybe that's not a great example. I don't remember

How about my scenario:

What happened:

R, I'm very disappointed. You do lousy work. I need you
to do a better job, not just "turn it in" (when R, humbly,
happens to be one of the best around, and this boss turns
only to R in crisis situations)

R is pissed. R does work, then immediately thereafter
starts circling entries in the want ads.

What should have happened:

R, I know your work is usually excellent. However, I
noticed that in the last job you did for me, you weren't as
detailed and thorough as you usually are. I understand it
is hard to keep at top performance all the time, but this
time, could you spend a little extra time, and make sure
your work is up to your usual excellent level?

R, flattered by the complement, works doubly as hard.

Perhaps B (boss) is hampered by the fact that he is used to
being worshiped, having been a golden boy, and never had to
really work his way up. Or perhaps just B is an asshole.

Anyway, I rant on. But it really is very easy to motivate
people, if you only try.

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