Delivering Feedback

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At 40 plus years old, the memories I have from my days in high school have become more nostalgic and faded. There are many life lessons I learned during that time period of my life, some that I still use today, such as something I learned at a D.A.R.E. Program in our high school gym.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, the D.A.R.E. program brought police officers to tell us, kids, in school the danger of drugs. I was a pretty straight-laced goofy kid and too scared to try any type of drug, so this program didn’t really speak to me. BUT there was one thing that they said during the program that I still use today, the Sandwich Method. This is a great tool to deliver feedback or any type of perceived negative communication.

The Sandwich Method was the suggested way the students could tell people that were pushing drugs that we were not interested in doing drugs. It went a little something like this… “Thanks for thinking of me as a friend, sorry I don’t do drugs, but let’s go play some volleyball instead”. Basically, the idea is to start with a positive statement then sandwich the negative part of the story in the middle, and redirect with another positive statement. I found myself using this method throughout my high school years when interacting with others. “I appreciate the attention you are giving me, please don’t give me a swirly in the toilet, if you put me down maybe we could hang out as friends?” Or “Thanks for noticing my underwear is hanging out. No, I don’t need my underwear pulled up over my head, but I will always remember to tuck in my shirt now.”  

Okay, so yes those are some pretty rough circumstances, but it also worked in more positive environments. “Thanks for coming over to my house. I’d rather not get into my parents liquor cabinet. How about we go play outside?” Yes, I grew up in a small town! I have a picture of me riding a horse in my high school yearbook.

Now fast forward 30 years and I still use this method and feel like it is a great way to provide constructive criticism. “Thanks for your suggestion on the latest marketing idea, how do we overcome the lack of a budget to hire a three ring circus, I’m not sure that will work. How about we explore some less expensive options? Keep thinking outside of the box as your creativity is very important to the team” or “Thanks for following up with that lead. Do you think making more than three sales calls a day might improve your numbers? I just want you to be successful in this role.”

Do you agree? What other things could you use the sandwich method for?

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