The sandwich feedback technique is a tried-and-true method of structuring feedback so it is easier to deliver and accept. The idea is to start with a bit of praise, then bring up an area that needs improvement, and then finish with a bit more praise. The technique reinforces good behavior and asks for improvements that will help the recipient grow.
Giving feedback, especially formal feedback, can be a stressful situation for both people. One tiny word can make all the difference. See if you can spot it.
“Your content was right on but you really need to work on your presentation skills.”
“Your content was very interesting and I have some suggestions as to how you can be more present as you tell it.”
What’s the word? “But.”
When we use “but,” it shifts the focus from what went well to what needs improvement. It makes it difficult to focus on anything but the criticism and shortchanges what we’re doing well. In the second example, using “and” gives equal weight to each component of the comment and it leaves the recipient with a sense of potential.
Try swapping out this one word to make sure people hear it when you tell them how amazing/brilliant/fantastic they are. And if your boss needs a reminder, give them a copy of this tip.