Most people dread having difficult workplace conversations.

Would you love to be able to give difficult feedback well? Perhaps you have been taught the feedback sandwich, but it isn’t cutting the mustard! The basic recipe for a Feedback Sandwich, or Hamburger Feedback, is to sandwich one specific criticism between two specific praises. It has been sighted as a valuable technique for tackling challenging conversations, designed to ease the blow of any critical feedback. However, in this video I speak with David Bentley about how the feedback sandwich can do more harm than good.

If you would’d like Fiona to learn how to give feedback without upsetting anyone, to deliver a criticism, or make a negative comment without that person hating you or getting overly upset them please click the contact button or read more about Communication Coaching on my coaching pages.

And here is the transcript if you prefer to read rather than watch!


Fiona Spence: Hello I’m with David Bentley author of the Naked Leadership and we were having a great chat last night actually weren’t we,

David Bentley: Yes we were, about sandwich, the feedback sandwich, and how we actually feel that it’s really not the best way to get feedback and so I suppose a good place to start is just by explaining what an earth a feedback sandwich is just in case anyone’s not that term this is known by many names the feedback sandwich um some of them are not very polite but it’s where you say something good first and you say something critical and then you say something good on the end to make them feel better.

Fiona Spence: and what we found is you say something good which does make people feel fabulous and then you hit them with the negative and after that it all goes horribly wrong and you gave me a great analogy that I loved last night.

David Bentley: You are exactly right. It is like going on a date and because with a feedback sandwich because you always have to put a “but” or “however” in the middle, which kind of negates everythingthat came before that. So it’s like being on a date and having someone say to you “you’re a really nice person but” so the minute that butt comes out you might as well go take the bill please because it’s all over, you’re leaving. It also sets up a completely different expectation. So once people get used to the fact that you do this, then even if you want to say something genuinely good to them, what are they waiting for? ‘But’

They’re waiting for the bad stuff. So even when you want to say something good they don’t trust you anymore. It’s a really dishonest way to give feedback and it’s really all about the making it easier for the leader, not making it factual and appropriate and helpful for the employee.

Fiona Spence: That’s right, and I think the original thinking was if I say something nice first they’re still going to like me, they’re still going to want to work through me, and they won’t feel too bad. So I can feel better about myself, because they don’t feel bad. But actually it does the complete opposite doesn’t it?

David Bentley: Exactly right and my philosophy in Naked Leadership is it’s leadership’s not about the leader, it’s about the person you’re dealing with. Everything you do should be about helping them, or trying to help them, or trying to get them to understand, what you need. And if you set up a dishonest expectation right at the start they won’t trust you. The minute they don’t trust you, you don’t get that back. It’s extremely difficult to regain trust, so why would you do it? Why would you use a feedback sandwhich?!

Fiona Spence: Exactly, so if you’d like to know how to give feedback without using the feedback sandwich please do get in touch with me, and David’s book is out with the second edition and that’s coming later on this year.

David Bentley: Very soon, delayed by Covid!

Fiona Spence: Fabulous thank you so much David.

David Bentley: You’re welcome

Free Clarity Call

If you’re interested in booking an obligation-free chat with me, simply click the button below.

I look forward to helping you achieve greater clarity and success in your life and career and the job satisfaction you deserve.

Please click the button below if you’d like to book an obligation-free chat with me.