INSTANT MBA: When Giving Feedback, Give Criticism Between Two Positives

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Today's advice comes from Jonah Berger, Wharton professor and author of "Contagious: Why Things Catch On"  via LinkedIn:

"Suggesting improvements isn’t always easy... One easy way is to take a play out of Mary Poppins playbook. As anyone who has kids can attest, getting them to take bad tasting medicine can be tough. But one way to make it easier is to put a little good before the bad. As the famous Poppins’ song goes, just a spoonful of sugar and the medicine goes down. Put a little sugar up front and you’re less likely to notice the nasty medicine that follows."

Berger offers his version of sugar with the "criticism sandwich." He says that r ather than saying strictly what you don’t like, you should sandwich criticism between two positive things. Start with something affirmative, add constructive feedback, then close with a positive compliment.  By starting and ending with something positive, you show people that you’re not attacking them, and they will be more likely to listen.

"A criticism sandwich also makes the person leveling the criticism look better. Rather than seeming like a Negative Nelly, they seem more like a Constructive Chris. Someone who wants to help.  So next time you’re walking into a meeting, or arguing with your spouse, don’t just be critical. Put some positive bread on either side of the negative filling and make it a criticism sandwich. Everyone will find your comments much more palatable."

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