Improve Your Communication Skills
This is a short article, a quick and dirty. An actionable piece of advice that can be implemented from here on in.
Feedback; it’s imperative to improvement, imperative to growth and imperative to understanding blind zone areas in performance that need addressing.
Feedback is also a staple in the Office. Daily conversations, weekly progress meetings, and yearly annual reviews. Often feedback is balanced in weighting, cleverly communicated to increase motivation and ultimately, from the employers perspective, your productivity.
Nobody likes receiving compliments that are also filled with backhanded negative comments or criticism. A Negative piece simultaneously wedged alongside two positive pieces.
This feedback is also known as a Compliment Sandwich.
The Compliment Sandwich
Constructive criticism squished in contrasting positive messages.
Compliment Sandwiches have become a staple of society, particularly in the office environment. This is where they are abused most. Somewhere along the way, this method of communication was seen as a great way to leverage the individual:
“You’re doing really well, the reporting is some way off standard, but everybody is buying into your way of thinking around here”.
The intention is that the negative feedback is easier to ‘swallow’. This however, does not work.
The result is mixed messages. The recipient does not actually know where they stand. Psychologically, the way that our brains are primed means that the criticism takes a stronger hold than the positive. This is what will be remembered.
The sandwich has only caused confusion; essentially the opposite of the intension. It is also much harder for the recipient to understand how to progress; what to do with that criticism.
Instead, try this strategy. If you are providing feedback – keep it isolated to the realms of the either positivity or negativity. Keep those contrasting messages separate.
Moreover, it is imperative to add some piece of suggestion to any negative feedback – onto how the recipient can go on to solve or improve.
So back to our example:
“You’re doing really well; everybody is really buying into your way of thinking around here.
On the other hand
The reporting is some way off standard, what if you checked out this learning page on the company website and learn some of the basic functionality”.
Not only does this offer some compassion, but it also gives the recipient the right to accept or reject the proposition. This eliminates any belittling and any potential decline in confidence or morale.
The recipient walks away with the criticism, but they can figure out how to resolve and correct their ways. They are also in full control of how they go about the improvement, which will give them fresh impetus and a positive mind-set going into the change.
It’s about showing care and respect to the recipient; something that often goes amiss in an Office Environment with stress, pressures and timelines.
If you’re a Manager, stop serving this sandwich to your understudies.
If you’re an understudy, be clear and succinct in your requests and your own feedback.