No one wants to sound like a jerk when giving constructive criticism, but sometimes we bury the point when trying too hard to spare feelings. Dive straight to the point without sandwiching praise around it if the kindness in your delivery is muddling the message.
Picture: Micolo J/Flickr
It never helps to be mean to someone when trying to get them to do something, but delivering direct constructive criticism and being harsh aren’t always one and the same. Author and College Professor David Burkus recommends being specific with your criticism and suggestions for improvement, and doing so on a regular basis. He also explains why this is often better than the sandwich method:
In order to produce outstanding creative work, you need criticism. We regularly use criticism and conflict to make our ideas better and our projects stronger. That’s the reason the compliment sandwich is so ineffective. It works against us by making the criticism harder to comprehend, sandwich[ed] in between two vague and unrelated positives. You can wind up unsure of whether you’re going to be promoted or fired. Beyond that, if the criticism is sharp enough, it will make all of the positives feed insincere, again negating the purpose of delivering the feedback.
The sandwich method works well when you can still be direct and ensure the point gets across. But certain times, like when the criticism is being buried by unrelated praise, it’s less transparent and difficult to comprehend. When this happens it’s better to be forward.