Crap sandwiches

wingetSocial media allows anyone to connect directly to authors and thought leaders and have unfiltered conversations that were just not possible in the past. I just had a lunchtime exchange on Facebook with Larry Winget, author of the upcoming book “No Time for Tact.”  A self-described pitbull of personal development, Larry’s in-your-face, direct style can be equally off-putting and refreshing. It’s shock value with a point, and I like it.

Here’s our brief wall conversation following this posted book excerpt:

“Constructive criticism is a stupid concept. To construct means to build up. To criticize is to tear down. You can’t do both at the same time. Pick one (from “No Time For Tact.”) I also wrote about the Crap Sandwich concept in my book. Any way you slice it, at the end, you still have the taste of crap in your mouth. Better to just give it to people straight. We spend way too much time trying to soften the blow and don’t end up serving people well at all.”

Really?  Personally, this goes against everything I learned from my parents, school, church and Toastmasters. And hey, I’m from Indiana. People from Indiana grow up nice. I felt compelled to throw in my two cents…

“Larry, I agree that criticism tears down in preparation for building up. The key is asking someone if they want it before you just dump it on them. ‘Would you like my opinion on how you can improve?’ If they say no, be prepared to walk away.”

“David, if they work for you, you don’t have to ask, it’s your obligation to criticize their work. If they don’t work for you, I have discovered it is best to wait until they ask you. People don’t want to change any way or they already would have so why put yourself through the grief of “helping” them? It’s a waste of time and effort for everyone.”

“Good point Larry. In my experience though, I see so much crap rolling downhill for everyone at work, I find it helps morale to get it in “sandwich form” occasionally 🙂  I have also found some people willing to change, starving for help, but afraid to ask. So I volunteer my humble advice. Some say yes, some say no thanks.”

“David, your point is well taken.”

I share this with you because:

A) It shows that Larry Winget is reasonable and willing to have an intelligent conversation with his readers, and

B) I really want to know what you think about Larry’s claim above, “We spend way too much time trying to soften the blow and don’t end up serving people well at all.”  Do you agree?

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5 Comments on “Crap sandwiches”


  1. David, if you feed someone a crap sandwich… regardless of the bread… or the condiments, it will taste like crap. Constructive criticism is a lost art, and the definition that Winget uses in not in MY dictionary.

    In addition to your feedback technique, another powerful way is to ask the other person to give a self-assessment of what they liked and what they would like to do better (before giving your opinion). That gives THEM the chance to point out the obvious, and it makes it a discussion instead of a one-way dump.

    • davidgoad Says:

      Stephen that is brilliant. It’s like asking them if they want to ask you without actually asking them.
      Starting with “what did you like most about your ?” definitely starts the conversation with something they believe is important.
      Thanks!

  2. Storilynn Says:

    Good post, interesting point of view. I agree in certain roles it is one’s obligation to grow individuals. However, in those cases, I believe it is equally important to identify and grow the strengths as well as the weaknesses (not to mention it’s good for morale).

    That said the idea that “spending time trying to soften the blow doesn’t end up serving people well” may be true. If the crap sandwich is just crap – not honest, authentic feedback (whether good or bad) it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

    • davidgoad Says:

      Stori, I have heard people say “don’t sugar coat it, just tell me” or “don’t beat around the bush.” Which really means “Don’t make me work too hard to figure out what you’re saying. I just want to take the nasty pill and get it over with.”

      I agree with what you’re saying – that giving honest and authentic feedback is not sugarcoating… not crap at all. A good honest compliment followed by good honest (and invited) criticism smells pretty good in my book.

  3. Rich Says:

    Larry Winget is black and white in a world of gray, which is his schtick, his niche, and his success.

    Toastmasters suggests offering criticism in a civilized manner that often results in no advice, bad advice, or dismissed advice. Why? A. So no one gets hurt. B. No guarantee of the competency level of the evaluator. C. To cater to the weak and meek, which is what most of us are the first few weeks/months of TM, before we get our foot wet.

    Every situation, every workplace, every person is different. If the evaluator is responsible for the quality of work they are critiquing, the more authentic the critique is likely to be (Owner/Manager to employee).

    When critiquing, as when speaking, know your goal, your audience, and who’s paying the bill.


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