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The Feedback Sandwich – Part 1 of 3

Give Me Your Weight

I do a dance form called Contact Improv. In this dance we often do lifts and give each other our weight.

Last week I was dancing with a friend of mine.
I noticed that she was hesitant to give me
her full weight when doing certain lifts.

Feeling somebody’s weight on me
is something I really enjoy
so I wanted to let her know that she could
let go and give it all to me!

Feedback Without Criticism

At the same time I didn’t want her to feel
like I was criticizing her.
In fact it was quite the opposite.
I enjoy dancing with her so much and
I just wanted to add a little something to that enjoyment.

Start With “I Like You”

I started out by telling her just that.
I said that I find her to be one of
my favorite people to dance with
because we have a really good connection
and a natural sense of flow.

I also really like the way we take our time,
move slowly and really listen to each other.

She seemed quite happy to receive this acknowledgement
and mentioned that she feels the same way.

Our Awesomeness Could be a Little More Awesome

I then added that there was just one thing
that I would like a little more of in our dancing.
I said that I really enjoy feeling her weight on me
and I noticed that she doesn’t always give me her full weight.

I wanted her to know that I was comfortable with it
and actually would very much like to feel more of her
in those moments.

I’m Mentioning This For Our Mutual Benefit

I said that we already feel so connected when we’re dancing,
I think this would just add another level of connection.

This is something that would bring us both more joy
when we are doing Contact with each other.

The Seed Was Sown

She was so receptive to the idea and immediately said
“Let’s dance some more so I can try it.”

We did and she really paid a lot of attention
to giving me her weight.
Our dance was significantly transformed
and we were both so happy by the end of it.

When our dance was finished
she thanked me for the extremely positive
and sensitive way that I gave her that feedback.

Well delivered feedback makes the message more palatable

She said the way that I introduced it and delivered it
made her not only receptive to it, but actually excited to receive it and try it.

Caught In The Act

Then she narrowed her eyes slightly and
looked at me sideways asking “Did you just give me a feedback sandwich?”

I replied “Guilty as charged.”

The sandwich is a very effective tool for
offering someone constructive feedback

In its most simplified form
the idea is to say something positive
followed by the constructive feedback and
finishing up with another positive statement.

Like any skill it takes some time
to do this naturally and gracefully.
In the beginning it can feel artificial and forced.

What a Poorly Executed Sandwich Looks Like

Unartfully done it can go something like this:

You have nice hair.
Your writing sucks.
I like your shoes.

We can safely call this a bad sandwich.

Planting The Seed of Change

When I think of the positive-negative-positive format
I see it like planting a seed.

First I must dig a little hole in the ground
so there is space for the seed to be received.

Then I can plant the seed.
Of course it makes sense for me
to plant the right kind of seed.
If I want a plum tree it will not benefit me
to plant a cherry seed.

Finally it is time to cover the seed with soil
and perhaps even spread some fertilizer on top.

Be There To Support the Process

If you want to take the analogy further we can say
that even after planting the seed
it might be useful to water it
and also be there as a source of sunlight
as it begins to sprout.

It is quite a responsibility to offer
somebody constructive feedback.
If we can do it in a way that makes it
easier for them to assimilate and act on it
we are doing a much greater service to them.

Make Your Positive Intent Clear

One of the main purposes of the
beginning and ending of the sandwich
is to communicate that very intent.
It is to let the person know that our motivation
is to be of service.

Service to them,
service to our relationship,
service to the group and
to the larger community as well.

See the Good in People

It is also helpful for the person to know
that you see good in them.
If we are just surrounded by criticism
then it can be easy to think badly of ourselves.

In a world where self esteem and self love
seem to be largely wanting it is worthwhile
to be a voice of support and positivity.

This is why I believe it makes sense to pay deep attention
to the way we offer feedback to other people.

“I’m tough. I don’t need that sandwich crap.”

There are people who say:
“Just give it to me straight.
Don’t flower it up.
I just want the truth.”

There is nothing less true in delivering your message
with kindness and love.

Love Is a Higher Truth

In fact when we can connect heart to heart with somebody
as we are sharing our message
we are able to share more honestly and
the message will be received more deeply.

The result is a more profound experience of truth
than would otherwise have been possible.

Over the next couple of days I will offer more details about
how to formulate and deliver a really effective sandwich.

There are many subtleties I would like to share
that can help you when working with this tool.

How Long Should The Sandwich Take?

One example of this is to understand how long
the first part of the sandwich should take.
Or using the other analogy
how deep a hole to dig for the seed.

There are many things to pay attention to at this stage.
Sometimes the first part may only take a minute or two,
sometimes it may take a year or two!

In fact there have been times when I have successfully
laid down the foundation of the first slice of bread
with just a kind look.

I will go into more detail about this
over the next couple of days.

Of course I will also be addressing
how this concept applies to parenting,
but you probably already guessed that.

If you have any experiences,
whether positive or challenging,
about your use of the feedback sandwich
I would love to read them in the comments below.

Look out for part two coming tomorrow.

The Feedback Sandwich – Part 1 of 3

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