Giving Feedback Effectively I train people in how to avoid the ‘but’ reverse, I always walk backwards wiggling my bottom so they get a great visual anchor attached to the learning. You now have an image of someone walking backwards wiggling their bottom and are now more likely to remember how to avoid the ‘but’ reverse.

“I really want to sign up to your course, but…..”
“I’d love to go out tonight, but…..”
“That presentation was fantastic, however…..”
It’s all a bit too familiar isn’t it? When you’re receiving feedback from your boss at work, you’re almost waiting for the ‘but’. If you have a boss that hasn’t been trained by me or someone like me, your boss is likely to be a fan of the ‘s**t sandwich’ method of giving feedback. This consists of a good point, a bad point and a good point about your performance or progress.

We all know it’s coming and we, as human beings only ever focus on the negative bit in the middle of the praise sandwich (the more official name for this outdated and useless technique). So, even if your boss has the best intentions of giving you praise, you only ever hear the bad stuff and spend the rest of the time before the next appraisal ruminating on it and wondering what will be in the next praise sandwich you receive.

Happily, there is a cure for this terrible sandwich filling. Bosses and givers of feedback need to abolish the words ‘but’ and ‘however’ from their feedback conversations when giving praise.

The feedback conversation needs to go like this: “Barbara, you’ve done fantastically well in reaching your targets this year, well done, I’m really pleased for you and what I’d like you to focus on now is your paperwork.”
“Phil you’ve really nailed the project plan deadlines recently because you’ve been able to manage your time so much more efficiently and I know those hiccups you had at the beginning are now over.” etc…

How much more pleasant is it to receive your good feedback followed by a ‘and’ ‘as’ ‘whilst’ or ‘because’. When you hear these link words, your brain keeps the positive stuff in your head and you go away from your feedback session happy. When you hear the ‘but’ reverse it does exactly that; reverse all the positive stuff you’ve just heard and makes it seem negative.

My old boss had a phrase that I detest even to this day, he would say, “I’m not being funny but,…” which meant you knew he was about to be very ‘funny’ and not in a good way. Or my dear, departed mother’s favourite expression, “I shouldn’t really say this, but….” and you just knew she was going to say something she really shouldn’t have said!

A plea to givers of feedback across the land USE ‘and ‘as’ ‘whilst’ and ‘because’ to link your praise to an area for improvement and observe as your staff, kids, friends, partners etc, flourish and delight in positive feedback.

Rebecca Bonnington, Director of Rebecca Inspires Limited.
Facilitating change in organisations across the world.

Contact me directly [email protected] or visit for NLP Courses, Coaching, Bespoke training and more.
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