Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Why I'd like a *Praise Sandwich*, but only if it's got a picture of the Virgin Mary on it.

Can I just say, before we start, that I'm really pleased that you're here. No, seriously, it's great that you've popped by. You are so intelligent and I love those comments you sometimes post. Very insightful!

Do people just constantly come up to you and tell you how witty and clever you are? I'm sure they do. No, seriously, you are my favourite. Out of all of my *imaginary* readers, you are my favourite. Really. No, come on, I'm not the sort of person to just *say* things. It's not just soft soap, I am really glad you could come by.

O, and by the way, you're looking *really* nice today. Really, I can see you smiling now, that little smile popping up on your face - you can't help it can you? - turning into a little grin. Such a great smile! I'm smiling in response. How weird is that? We're all smiling!

But really, seriously - you are really looking really good today...

O. Where were we? I just wanted to have a few words, if that's okay? Are you comfortable. Do you want to get yourself a drink, or are you alright? If you wanna get a drink, I'll wait, I don't mind. No seriously, I'll wait.....
Okay. Right. Let's get to the meat of the matter.

Teachers & managers & clever boss people in general have a methodology (always with the -ologies - oy vey!) for giving *constructive* criticism. They call this method, giving a student/employee/underling a:

*Praise Sandwich*

Yumm yum! Mmmm, a Praise Sandwich! Can I have mine with extra mayo? Mmmm.

But, no really, thinking about it, is it okay if I just have a bread sandwich? No filler thanks. I kinda know what's in there and I'd kinda just not have it. I'm kinda allergic? So... if that's okay with you? Yeh? Just the bread for me, ta.

Because whilst I don't mind givin em out (praise sandwiches this is) I'm less good at receiving them.

And also, in all heckin honesty, some people are not that good at giving em out. Some people, it's a bit like when they're making a sandwich, they think that rather than waste too much good bread, it's better to just pile on the filling, splat as much on as you can then wedge a piece of thin sliced on top. Filling is squidging out of the sides. Gotta get your money's worth of filling, hant ya? Even if you do upset the balance of the butty a bit. That's how a lot of people think.

But, wait, before we get too carried away on butty making techniques, let's just pause a second and make sure we're all together here on the terminology:
a *Praise Sandwich* works like this:
"slice of praise.…A slice of constructive criticism.…Note that even the criticism is still covered in praise. You want the youngster to really absorb what you have just said.…The final bit of praise.…And that’s the praise sandwich."

[Rick Wolff, 'Coaching Kids for Dummies', 2000]

Open with some comments about something the employee has done well recently. Then address the bad stuff, but make it quick and to the point, like a shot. Close with another positive item. The employee leaves feeling better about the meeting than if you just gave them the criticism, and you’ve done your job of being the benevolent task master. In the trade, this is known as a 'praise sandwich.'"
[Max Mignon, 'Tricks of the Trade' 2005 - both books quoted from]

Here's the reality of the praise sandwich as interpreted by my me & my curmudgeonly nature:
If someone uses that technique with me, I don't see a *Praise Sandwich*, I see someone trying to feed me a shit butty. And I'm not best pleased about.
They may have a smile on their face, but I can smell it, dude. Especially if you're using virtually no bread here. That's hardly a Ryvita's worth! A sparrow would be disappointed with that bit of bread. You'd get more bread on a wheat-free diet.

The praise at the front is a faint smile; the praise at the end is a faint 'well done'.

In the middle? Well let's concentrate on what we're here to do. Criticism, right? Yeah, let's get to the meat-of-the-matter. Meat-of-the-matter piled up like bacon at an All-You-Can-Eat-Breakfast.

In fact I'm so ill-equipped to cope. I probably can't see any bread anyway. It's like I'm being handed a turd sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, on a lovely little bed of chocolate buttons.

Yeh, thanks for that, mate, but it's still a poo and I don't want to even look at it, thanks.

[Let's walk away from the plop-talk now. Come on, let's go wash our hands and think happy thoughts.]

My point being twofold.
  1. Is this *technique* worth bothering with? Sure, it might work great with unwitting schoolkids and youthful types who are a) used to getting feedback & b) don't actually listen anyway, but try it with the next person you meet - let's say, compliment them briefly on their hair, tell them that they're looking fat, but how it suits them, and then compliment them on what nice shoes they're wearing. Yeh, try that.
  2. Am I a Porcupine?
As in the book: 'How to Hug a Porcupine' - a book that deals with How to Cope with people that are a bit, well, twatty, as far as I can work out from a quick Amazon perusal. I don't take criticism well, I admit it. But am I that far out & weird? Am I at the level of a syndrome? Do I have discriticalia?

But well, I did just get a good 40 minutes *feedback*. And I'm still prickly about it, I'll admit. Was a lot of it merited? Probably. Does that make it any easier to take or make it any easier act upon? Will it make it any easier to sleep tonight? Cos those were a lot of points I need to address if I'm going to *move forward* & *achieve my goals*.

I canna say any more. I blame me. I'm sure. But I know why we all kinda like watching The Apprentice & The X Factor and all the rest of em. It's fun watching other people receiving a bout of *harsh but fair* criticism - it's effin bloomin chuffin hard takin it on your own blinkin chin.

So excuse me while I sulk for a few hours. Bah. "Just because I'm not doing things right, doesn't mean I have to listen to a word you say!"

I think I will always be a moody resentful teenager. I should just accept it. But I don't suppose anyone else will. And why should they?

Just go away now, I want to be on my own...

O, before you go, can I just say, I think you've done fantastically well to read this far, I never fail to be surprised with how well you cope with all this random nonsense! Can I just say again, how much I really like you, personally. You're like a friend to me. I really feel like you're here, helping me. You really are the most empathetic person I've ever met/never met...***

*** delete/ignore as applicable...

1 comment:

  1. One fatal flaw with the praise sarny is the person who is delivering it. They don't allow for insensitive morons when they think these things up :)