Use The Sandwich Method To Provide Constructive Criticism

A Reuben, My Favorite!

A Reuben. My Favorite!

There’s a fine line between being a jerk and being constructive.  As a parent, manager, spouse, or friend, most of the time we just want what’s best for others.  The problem is, we’re afraid to offend and we therefore lose any ability to help.

There’s no better reward than advising someone how to improve, and then watch them flourish.  Push the person too far, however, and you’ll engender resentment.  The Sandwich Method is one the best ways for delivering constructive feedback.

SCENARIO: Your friend Sam comes up with a corny idea for a website called “Financial Samurai.”  Sam thinks it will become a Top 25 personal finance site in the world one day and thinks the tagline “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries” is catchy.  He thinks he’ll be able to retire off the advertising revenue and is already thinking about buying the latest Audi S5 and quitting his day job with his expected income.

You know better because there are 50 million active websites out there (200+ million total), and only the top 100,000 (0.2%) sites earn 74% of all the revenue according to Alexa.  As a friend, how do you knock some reality into Sam, without crushing his enthusiasm?

THE SANDWICH METHOD TO HELP SAM FACE REALITY:

Everything Is Relative Superstar – Being Happy With What You Have

Last week was pretty busy.  I traveled to three cities and saw 10 different clients with one of my senior colleagues, Jim.  Jim, aka Superstar, is 45 years old, has his PhD in Economics, and could probably retire now if he wants to.

Jim is a great speaker who engages his clients with insightful anecdotes.  At 5 foot 5 inches tall, Jim stands more confidently than his stature would suggest.  With a staff of 30 people serving his every wishes, Jim never has to worry about not getting his way.  He’s a meticulous man with particular demands, which leads us to our little adventure.

MR. CHAIRMAN

Six Figure Incomes & Unemployment – Challenging Reality By Engaging The Community

UnderarockFree Money Finance wrote a solid post on how to make “6 Figures in 7 years” over at GRS. By the time I got to his post, there were already 95 comments with a very negative undertone.  When I just questioned whether only 5.6% of the working population makes over $100,000/yr, there was even more negative reaction.  Fellow commenter Sarah wrote, “You are out of touch with reality!” Umm, I didn’t make a statement, I just asked a question.

I challenged the 5.6% assumption because out of the 100+ comments, 20 people claim they make over 100k.  That’s 20% of the sample set, and much more than the US Census Bureau’s data would suggest.  Perhaps the whole topic just brings about more people who are making over 100K to begin with.  If that’s the case, what are you doing commenting on a post on how to make over 100K if you’re already there?  Bragging isn’t very becoming, although I’d be curious to know what all readers make over here at FS.

You’re Rich And I’m Rich, OK! You’re Still Rich And I’m Not As Rich, Not OK!

FreedomSign-1One of the points I write in “Party Like It’s 1999 – 10 Takeaways From This Recession” is that people have short memories.  Back in the first quarter of 2009, there was massive populist outrage over Wall St. bonuses.  Who could blame the people, when folks such as Andrew J. Hall collected $100 million despite Citigroup taking tens of billions in assistance from the government and is now 1/3 owned by us.

The Wall Street Journal reported that 2009 Wall Street compensation will breach 2007 levels, and Goldman Sach’s average compensation per employee will reach $734,000 vs. “only” $364,000 last year and 12% higher than 2007 peak!  WOW!  Sign me up!  I almost spit out my Honey Nut Cheerios when I read the news.  Yet, after scanning over 200 blogs yesterday not one decided to highlight this story.  Meanwhile, take a quick search of posts 10 months ago and you can see the outrage that populated the media.

Love Your Colleagues Thirty Minutes A Week

Everyday, we are inundated with e-mails. I personally get over 300 a day, and other colleagues I’ve heard get 500.  Despite many of the e-mails being largely irrelevant, or impersonal given the blast distribution trend, it’s worth responding every once in a while with a “Thank You” and a recognition of what they’ve sent.

Most of the time all the emailer wants is for someone to respond and recognize their work.  How many times have you proceeded to review your e-mail AFTER you sent it, just so you can relish in what you’ve said?  Yesterday, I spent about 30 minutes consciously responding to about 12 e-mails which I normally wouldn’t have responded to, and it felt good.  Furthermore, I sent out another quick 22 e-mails of congratulation for those who got promoted to celebrate their success.  All replied, and were extremely appreciative.