Powerful strategies to provide feedback

Sh*t sandwich way or the Plain Loaf way

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How often have you dreaded giving feedback?

How often have you felt anxious receiving feedback?

Giving feedback and receiving feedback is a human chemistry.

Our academic curriculum does not teach us how to give and receive feedback. Growing up, feedback from our parents are considered as their wish lists and hence we don’t read between the lines. The culture of giving and receiving feedback becomes very formal when we step into the workforce. With little to no exposure about the art of giving and receiving feedback — managers dread giving feedback and employees hate receiving them.

Management gurus and leadership coaches suggest delivering feedback through one of the following approaches

  • Well dressedShit Sandwich
  • Less palatable “Plain loaf”

The above techniques need no explanation.

The former, is the technique of giving negative feedback sandwiched neatly between two positive points. The main idea behind the shit sandwich technique is that the negative feedback is easier for the employees to digest if it is preceded and succeeded by positive reinforcement.

The less palatable “plain loaf” technique is the blunt way of relaying a feedback. It needs little to no preparation to give feedback.

In order to make the feedback more effective, adopt the style that is best suited for the receiver of the feedback

As a leader you should know the gender (obviously), culture and the personality of the person to whom you are providing the feedback. 

Lets dive into each and uncover the style that is best suited for those group


“Men are from Mars and women are from Venus”

There is lot of scientific evidence that proves that men and women do not receive feedback the same way. Women are emotionally tender and need lot of coercion while providing feedback. The Shit sandwich way of providing feedback works well with women as they like the sequence of appreciation — depreciation — appreciation. The opening and closing tag lines make them consume the negative feedback with ease. On the other hand, men like to get straight into the business. They would rather prefer the Plain loaf way of providing feedback as it gives them the raw sense of what his peer or manager perceives about him.


People who are brought up in conservative societies naturally would have received reprimands followed by a praise. Hence they are well suited to receive the feedback the shit sandwich way. On the other hand kids who grew in liberal societies and cultures are more adopted to direct communication and hence they appreciate the plain loaf way of receiving feedback. If you know the nationality of your employee or have any hints about where she grew up, a quick google search will give the social norm and culture that the employee is exposed to.


This is a hard bet if you haven’t known the person for a while or if you are providing the feedback to the person for the first time. Introverts tend to prefer the plain loaf way of receiving feedback and extroverts prefer the shit sandwich way. If you have known the employee for a while, adopt the approach based on the personality of the employee. If she is someone who often beats around the bush, she would appreciate the Shit sandwich way of receiving feedback and if she is straight to the point, she would naturally prefer the Plain loaf way.

The next time you are preparing to give a feedback, choose your style of delivery based on how well the receiver would fit in one of the above groups. It saves lot of pain for yourself and the receiver and it makes the communication very effective.

Thank you for reading.

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