How to give and receive criticism the right way

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If you take only one thing from this article, let it be this:

The criticism sandwich

This sandwich is a recipe for compassionate constructive criticism that will leave you feeling a whole lot less guilty about dishing it out, and the receiver feeling much more empowered to make positive changes based on your feedback.

Use this recipe to give criticism the right way:


  • 1 x large sprinkling of willingness to find the good (as well as the bad) in the person who’ll be eating the sandwich
  • 2 x doses of positive feedback
  • 1 x dose of constructive feedback
  • 1 x plate of compassion


  1. Identify 2 x positive outcomes, attributes or ideas the receiver is responsible for. This will become the bread of your criticism sandwich
  2. Next, clearly layer 1 x dose of constructive feedback between the two positives. Be careful to avoid blame or judgement, and choose constructive feedback that gives the receiver clarity on how to avoid this in the future, and what steps they can take to make amends or improve.
  3. Deliver the sandwich on a plate of compassion when you are calm and collected.
  4. Describe the criticism sandwich in parts. Start with the first dose of positive feedback about the situation.
  5. Next, share the constructive feedback, being sure to emphasise the tasty action steps and ways they can improve next time.
  6. Finally, let them enjoy the final morsel of positive feedback

This recipe for constructive criticism will ensure that you get an improved behaviour or response next time. The layers of positive feedback act as a way of maintaining self esteem, whilst the actionable steps to improve give them something to work on, instead of just getting upset that they got it wrong, or it wasn’t up to expectations.

Now whilst we’re on the subject of criticism, it’s also worth mentioning that you might, on occasion, be on the receiving end. And, you might not get it delivered in a nice ‘criticism sandwich’. If that’s the case, here’s a quick tip to receive criticism in the right way:

  • Smile
  • Thank them for their feedback
  • Ask how you can do it differently next time
  • Ask if there’s any elements of the situation or your work they were happy with?

This will empower you to feel better about the situation, and do something about it, and educate them in how to give criticism in a much more effective way.

Over to you

Would you add anything to this recipe? Or do you wish someone else knew about it? Let us know in the comments and feel free to share.

Jen Smith coaches entrepreneurs in social media.

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