• Shit sandwiches are bad news wrapped around good news
  • Authentic feedback can help you and your career development
  • Change your mindset and you’ll never see it as a shit sandwich
You’re sitting down with your manager for a short one-on-one session.

This isn’t your normal weekly catch-up. This is a meeting where your boss plans to give you feedback about your work, project or maybe, it’s your annual performance review.

Whatever the case, you’re a bit nervous but not shitting your pants about it. You’re ready for the conversation that’s about to take place. You know what’s coming and you’re not exactly all smiles about these kinds of meetings.

It starts out positively with highlights of what you did well on the project and how you executed almost everything correctly and on time. You feel good about yourself and especially about finally getting the recognition you fucking deserve from all your hard work.

You feel like you’re on cloud nine with all the good vibes you’re getting.

Then, the tone of the conversation changes.

Your boss brings up a few criticisms about your performance. Maybe, it was how you interacted with others, mistakes that slipped by, not following protocols, etc. These weren’t major fuck ups like having sex at the office, but more like missteps and oversights.

Now, your mood swings all the way to the other end. You’re feeling stressed AF now but you acknowledge the errors, apologize and commit to doing better next time.

Your manager concludes the conversation by pointing out a few more good things and about how you're progressing well in your job. Your mood improves.

At this point, you’re not exactly happy nor are you sad. You’re in this weird kind of funk.

This is because you just got a shit sandwich from your boss.

What Is A Shit Sandwich Anyway?

You may or may not have heard of this term before.

A shit sandwich is a metaphor for delivering bad news wrapped around good news. The aim is to make the bad news a bit less piercing and more palatable. It’s a common modern method for managers and supervisors to provide criticism to employees in a less harsh way.

Back in the day, before corporate cultures had placed more importance on treating employees well, all of the negative feedback was direct and to the point. There was no recognition for the good things an employee did. It was all about what they did wrong.
Unfortunately, this kind of feedback method is still used today, particularly in toxic work environments and especially in situations where you have a demoralizing boss.

These kinds of negative feedback sessions are soul-crushing. Plus, they make it hard to stay motivated when shit isn’t working out for you despite the effort you’re putting in.

Put simply, feedback that is all negative just isn’t a good way to provide feedback. And, when you get nothing but negative feedback, you’ll eventually feel like quitting your job.

While the shit sandwich method may seem unoriginal and lazy, it’s a much better way of providing more balanced feedback when it’s given honestly. It recognizes your positive contributions and what you’re doing well while also pointing out areas for improvement.

In general, shit sandwich feedback starts out positively with recognition of the things that you did well, followed by your mistakes and/or shortcomings, then it ends with some additional positive points.

It’s the shitty middle that’s sandwiched on both ends with the good stuff - that’s your shit sandwich.

How To Eat A Shit Sandwich

When positive and negative feedback is done authentically, it’s a very good thing because you get recognized for your contributions and get honest feedback on where you can improve yourself.

When it’s done inauthentically, your manager is just laying out superficial positivity to mask negative criticism that he or she really wants to get across to you. They’re just too lazy to do it any other way and want to play it safe.

How you eat the shit sandwich really depends on the level of honesty that is being given and your level of openness to constructive criticism.

For example, if your boss is a fucking clueless executive, then you’re not going to place much value on their feedback because you know more than they do. You probably won’t place much value on it and you’ll just toss that shit sandwich in the trash.

However, if your manager wants to honestly see you succeed and you’re eager to improve your skills, capabilities and career, then the dialogue between you and your manager will be a no-bullshit conversation that recognizes all of the good and bad things.

This is when you’re eating that shit sandwich one bite at a time because you want to know the complete picture, not some sugar-coated bullshit. This is the mentality of experienced folks who want to improve.

Sensitive newbies that are just starting their careers don’t see it this way. For rookies, having to eat a shit sandwich is a lot like changing diapers for the first time. There will be some gagging.

VIDEO: Changing Diaper
YOUTUBE: Karen Stewart
LENGTH: 2:53
Just like changing diapers, after you have experienced a bunch shit sandwiches, you get used to it and your perspective changes.

When you see that the feedback is truly authentic, it’s very valuable. Everybody has an area that they can improve upon. Nobody’s perfect. Striving to be the best that you can be is what makes your job more fulfilling and “awesomer”.

When you’re getting honest feedback from your manager, never take anything personally. It’s all being done to help you so don’t forget that.

During the session, be sure to not blow off the good stuff. This happens a lot.

Accept and recognize yourself for all of the positive feedback you’re getting. Don’t shortchange yourself on this. You need to be your own best cheerleader.

When you have a manager that sees all of the good things that you’re doing, it makes office life easier and much more rewarding. If you have a manager like this, you’re lucky because many others have asshole bosses who make managing work stress an impossibility.

When you and your manager are reviewing your mistakes, shortfalls or areas for improvement, which is the shit part of the sandwich, see them as opportunities to strengthen those weaknesses.

See it this way - it’s a lot like getting tips and pointers from a fitness trainer whose main goal is for you to get off your effin’ ass and improve your health. The trainer is pointing out what you’re doing wrong and how to do it better.

It’s the same fundamental principle here with your manager.

If they truly want to see you succeed, they’re not going to hide any negative criticism that could make you better. They’re gonna lay it out there and if you want to improve, you need to eat that shit sandwich one bite at a time.

Less Shit Sandwich & More Like Healthy Dry Salad

When you’re sitting in your manager’s office reviewing the good and bad of everything you’ve done, it can be mentally and emotionally confusing, especially when you don’t take negative criticism that well.

Your mind will flip-flop and ask if this is a good thing or a bad thing. And in a lot of cases, it will focus on the negative because that’s how our primitive minds are programmed to work.

It’s critical to quiet the asshole in your head to stop negativity by reframing the feedback as if it was like that personal trainer giving you pointers.

When the feedback being given is coming from an honest place and from a person that wants to see you succeed, it’s all a good thing.

When you see it this way, then really, it’s not a shit sandwich. It’s more like a healthy kale, broccoli and spring mix salad without any dressing that you wouldn’t normally eat.

It’s not a savory meal, nor is it a steaming hot shit sandwich. But, you can’t deny that this kind of dry salad is really good for you.

Shift your mindset this way and you’ll never see it as a shit sandwich again.

Feel Better,

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