Many people believe that if they ‘soften the blow’ when giving negative or difficult feedback by sandwiching the bad news with some positive news either side, it will aid the person receiving the news. In reality it more than likely means the other person won’t ‘hear’ the negative feedback but instead focus on the positive feedback. Granted, by giving positive feedback as well as negative feedback, it will aid you in feeling better about yourself but most likely will not achieve the outcome you are hoping for. Taking this approach will also mean that staff stop believing the positive feedback (when it is genuinely deserved) because they will be waiting for the ‘catch’- the bad news.
Be clear and succinct in delivering feedback
So don’t be a coward! You should focus on delivering One Clear Message when giving feedback. This message needs to be clear and if possible, supported by 2 pieces of irrefutable evidence. Why 2? Well just one piece can be written off as ‘an exception’ and more than 2 can start to muddy the message.
Managers who are brave and take One Clear Message approach to giving feedback are the ones who are most likely to create change in the person receiving the feedback. They need to do it in a respectful and considered way and chose their time and place appropriately (i.e. don’t do it in front of their peers or in the middle of a meeting).
Of course this all assumes the other person is receptive to receiving the feedback – and we all know we shouldn’t assume. But this is another topic and if you would like to learn more about this, please get in touch.
So do you focus on ONE CLEAR MESSAGE or take the sh*t sandwich approach to giving difficult feedback?