The compliment sandwich doesn’t work, but the “complaint sandwich” does — this is why

We're too afraid to voice our complaints, and for good reason — it often doesn't go well.

use a complaint sandwich to give feedback at work

As a means of giving constructive feedback, the compliment sandwich has come under fire.


The idea is to start with a compliment about something someone does well, then deliver the negative feedback, and end on another compliment, so as not to offend the person on the receiving end. More often than not, what ends up happening is that feedback gets sugarcoated and lost in unrelated compliments, rather than delivered with compassionate directness, ultimately making it unclear and unproductive.

Instead of using such a convoluted method to get someone to change a habit, try what Guy Winch, Ph.D., a psychologist and author, calls a complaint sandwich. Winch coined the concept in his book The Squeaky Wheel and explained it at The Aspen Ideas Festival, hosted by The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic. At the festival, Winch explained that "we are afraid to voice complaints, and for good reason: It often doesn't go well" — yet that doesn't mean we can't reshape our tactics and feel good when giving and receiving feedback.

The two sandwiches are similar, but with one key difference: In the latter, your first positive statement should be a compliment very closely related to the situation at hand, and the second positive statement should be a call to action that describes the positive benefit of improving the behavior. For example, if you're addressing a co-worker who constantly misses deadlines, you might highlight how much you appreciate their diligence or attention to detail even when working under time constraints. And your complaint itself — or the "meat of the sandwich" — should be lean, or "in other words, all you need is the one incident to make your point," Winch says. Listing every instance your co-worker made a mistake will only alienate them more, so it's best to stick to the most recent incident.

So it might sound a little like this: "I really appreciate your attention to detail, even when we are working on a strict deadline. You were a day behind on this last project, though. It would be really beneficial to our whole team if you could prioritize our most pressing deadlines and get those projects in on time."

Here are four reasons why this encouraging and empathetic method is the one you should use:

It's the epitome of compassionate directness

Unlike the compliment sandwich, the complaint sandwich uses positive rhetoric in a relevant, straightforward way. Instead of beating around the bush and offering unrelated or over-the-top compliments, the positive statement (or first slice of "bread") applies to the situation and serves as a transition into the conversation rather than a distraction. This is a perfect example of compassionate directness because it allows you to deliver feedback in real time in a way that is sensitive to your listener's feelings.

It focuses on the present rather than the past

Sometimes, we get caught up in past grievances when giving feedback. This practice is largely ineffective and can make your listener resentful or even ashamed. The complaint sandwich is a forward-looking formula that will ensure neither you nor the recipient are left ruminating on past events that can't be changed.

It's specific in its approach

It's all too easy to be vague when giving feedback, simply because we don't want to hurt someone's feelings. The truth is, though, that honing in on details will help you deliver actionable advice that ultimately encourages a growth mindset. If your listener knows exactly where they went wrong, they can turn the mistake into a learning experience.

It motivates your listener to take action

The complaint sandwich makes it clear that something needs to be changed. Rather than leaving your colleague unsure of the next steps they should take — because they are caught up in a confusing mix of positive and negative feedback — they have a better idea of how they should course correct. And to take your complaint sandwich to the next level, you can work with them to devise a new goal and strategies that could help them achieve it.

Reprinted with permission of Thrive Global. Read the original article.

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This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

Yeah, that's hot. So what? Nuclear fusion reactions require an insane amount of heat and pressure --- a temperature environment similar to the sun, which is approximately 150 million degrees C.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

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