The Sandwich Method of Criticism | A Simple Method to Make any Criticism that goes Smoothly

The Sandwich Method

by Shamsul
emotional intelligence
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The Sandwich Method of Criticism


The sandwich method is a very effective management tool to make your negative feedback more easily accepted. It is one of the so-called “emotional intelligence” techniques. Emotional intelligence is an area to be developed to improve well-being at work. If you are interested, I advise you to order Daniel Goleman’s book, emotional intelligence, so you will have all the bases to understand what this intelligence is and how it can help you in your daily life.

How to Pass a Criticism Gently?

Have you ever listened to a friend sing but not been totally captivated by his performance? Your colleague has just given you a presentation but do you think that many elements are missing?

It is not always easy to give negative feedback to a person without upsetting them, especially if they are sensitive.

For this, a wonderful method exists. The sandwich technique will save you a lot of tension.

There are only a few people that enjoy receiving criticism. On the other hand, employees or workers frequently feel de-motivated after hearing criticism. So, managers must avoid doing this because it drops the productivity and efficiency levels of employees. On the contrary, they could use the “sandwich method” because it is based on a fixed sequence of criticism. The structure of this criticism is just like a sandwich, the criticism is lined between two comments of admiration. The filler of the sandwich is referred to as criticism. This kind of criticism is digestible for employees and they can receive negative feedback with an open heart. Plus, this criticism or conversation between managers and employees is really constructive. But, if managers cannot communicate it clearly, then it has some negative outcomes.


What is the Sandwich method? How is it used?

Basically, it is a kind of feedback that wraps criticism in praise. It starts with praises and then is followed by negative feedback, before using praising words again. You can consider ham and cheese as criticism which is packed between appreciative comments that you can call as the bread slices. The main purpose of this method is to create a constructive environment for employees in which they can receive negative feedback without getting it to severe. It depends on the person who is criticizing the employees that how he manages to give this conversation a good vibe.


When it is used?

It is often used in professional life, particularly in the valuation of employees, appraisal interviews, and performance of employees. For spontaneous feedback, the sandwich method is really useful because it offsets negative feedback with positive comments. The following quote will help you understand the sandwich method more efficiently,

Your topic was very good and well-structured from the beginning. But, there were some areas that need detailed information and material. You must cover these missing areas in your topic that we had discussed before. Still, your report was very insightful and you must work on the missing topic.”

As you can see, the above quote doesn’t look like negative feedback but it was actually very constructive for both sides. The application of the sandwich method is really broad in everyday life. You can talk with your friends or family on those topics that they do not want to listen to. It is also useful in sales and retailing as salespeople can exploit it to sell their products to targeted customers. In this scenario, they must fill investment and price into a sandwich. The slices of bread represent the possible uses and advantages of the product.


Criticism Regarding the Sandwich Method:

It could take away the real value of being admired. It is one of the biggest disadvantages or dangers of the sandwich method. The employees can easily recognize this tactic which is really unconstructive, especially if it is exploited repeatedly. They can’t consider your positive feedback as honest praise. Moreover, the sandwich method often overlooks the real points of criticism just because of positive evaluations. In this scenario, managers feel very confused and the actual purpose of criticism is lost. According to some people who do not in favor of the sandwich method, they believe that criticism should be expressed unambiguously and clearly so that employees can improve their performance and play their role to increase the company’s profit.



You better understand whether this style of criticism will work for you or not. If you think employees would respond positively to it then you can use it, otherwise, it could be fatal for the performance and growth of the company. Some employees just need a simple push but some need a heavy push. You must learn how to treat your employees in order to get the most out of their performance. On the contrary, the sandwich method has its own benefits and disadvantages. It is better to change your communication style and learn how and when to use the sandwich method.


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