Why You Should Use The Hamburger Feedback Method

Most people don't like receiving feedback because they feel like getting criticized or attacked. It also doesn't matter whether the feedback is destructive or constructive - some would always be offended.

However, frequently, we need to hear feedback and criticism, especially if it's for our benefit or the benefit of a greater whole. But we also need to remember the considerations when giving advice.

So, if we often don't like getting feedback ourselves, then it wouldn't be proper to give mindless criticism to other people without considering their feelings.

In this post, we'll discuss a feedback method of delivering constructive criticism without sounding mean or rude. It's called the hamburger feedback method.

How to Use the Hamburger Method of Constructive Criticism

Hamburger Feedback Method
Visualization of the Hamburger Feedback Method

Imagine a hamburger. It has a bun on top and another at the bottom, sandwiching a meaty patty. We'll use this as the picture of good constructive criticism that I found effective when giving feedback.

The idea behind the hamburger method of constructive criticism is to start with positive feedback (or praise) that will set an approving tone, giving you a better chance of delivering the "meat" of the feedback or the constructive criticism.

After delivering the negative feedback, you will end it with another positive feedback, fulfilling the bun-meat-bun structure of the hamburger.

For instance, if you want to collect money from a friend, you can say it in this manner:

  • Positive - "You're looking great, and it seems things are also going well at your job."
  • Criticism - "I just remembered that you still owe me P2,000 from that time, and I am looking to collect it."
  • Positive - "I know you may only have forgotten about it. I would also appreciate having more time to catch up soon."

You can use the hamburger feedback in personal and professional settings.

Drawbacks of the Hamburger Method of Constructive Criticism

While the hamburger feedback method can be an effective way of softening the blow when delivering criticism, it can also have some drawbacks. Here are some:

  • The main point may sometimes lose its power by using more positives (bun) than negatives (meat).
  • Frequent usage of the hamburger feedback method may cause some people to distrust praise, as it can be perceived as a blow-softener before an expected criticism.
  • It may sometimes appear as passive-aggressive, especially if you're in a leadership position.

Tips for Giving a Hamburger Feedback Method

1. Be specific and actionable.

If you advise someone that they need to improve their work, you should not just say, "You need to improve in your work more quickly."

Instead, give a specific area of improvement and what actions they can take to deliver the desired result.

For instance, I once received constructive feedback on my blogs, saying I needed to add more visuals and white spaces to increase the readability and SEO rankings.

That comment is more specific and actionable than the generic "Please improve your blog."

2. Be timely.

Most of the time, the success of constructive feedback is in the timing. For instance, if you give your feedback too late, you lose the best learning opportunity.

On the other hand, if you give your feedback too soon and at the height of the moment, it can easily escalate. So, learn to keep your timing at the best possible opportunity.

3. Be private.

No one wants to get criticized (even if it's constructive) in public because it can be embarrassing. It can also make people more defensive and less open to accepting our opinions.

So, just like what I wrote about the considerations when giving advice, our relationship with the recipient is necessary, and having the conversation in private can work best most of the time.

4. Be open to feedback yourself.

Finally, it's important to remember that if we're too eager to give feedback to other people, we should also accept other people's feedback.

It takes humility to accept that we still have room to grow and that others may have noticed some blindspots we may have missed.

Final Thought:

Everyone needs feedback, but not everyone can handle it gracefully.

So, if you need to give feedback prone to be defensive and take a fight-or-flight response, then the Hamburger Feedback Method is a great tool.

Remember that feedback should always aim for positive change for everyone and never be a means to humiliate anyone.

God bless!

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