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How to Give Negative Feedback

Tough Feedback to Swallow? Try a Compliment Sandwich

Whether you manage a team of people or work solo, chances are you’ll have to give feedback at some point in your career. And when that feedback is less than positive, things can get awkward fast. Next time you find yourself in the position of giving someone else — an employee, co-worker, customer, or even just a friend — the cold, hard truth, try serving up a compliment sandwich instead. To see how,


  1. Start positive. No one responds well to criticism when it’s the first thing they hear. Butter up your subject with at least two pieces of positive feedback first (the more the better, if you’ve got it). The catch: it must be honest, and it must be substantial (i.e., “Way to put one foot in front of the other this morning!” doesn’t count).
  2. Ease into the negative stuff. Now that your feedback recipient has had a little ego boost and is no longer on the defensive, it’s time to get to the issue you want to address. Remember, it’s called constructive criticism for a reason — keep it positive and productive. To make sure your comments are as well-received as possible, try to limit it to one piece of negative feedback at a time.
  3. Finish strong. Once you’ve gotten the unpleasantness out of the way, don’t just let the recipient walk away. Circle back to at least one more positive piece of feedback to end your conversation on a high note.

Source: Flickr User Ingorrr

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sweetpeabrina sweetpeabrina 6 years
I do this and the "Empathy Sandwich" all the time! It works wonders on cranky people.
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