Feedback is an important part of an employee's growth and development. Most managers and colleagues will give you a "sandwich" feedback. The "sandwich" feedback is where negative feedback is "sandwiched" between two positive feedback. This happens because they don't want you to feel bad. But should you receive a sugar coated feedback or not?
Sugarcoated or “sandwich” type of feedback can be deliberate or unintentionally delivered. Deliberate feedback of delivery is usually done by colleagues that you asked for feedback or when they want to give you feedback. For as unintentional, most managers do so without realizing it.
Deliberate sandwich feedback is caused because it is a common thing to do. People do this because it's easier for people to hear and accept negative feedback when it comes with positive feedback. They assume the sandwich approach provides balanced feedback.They also believe by giving both negative and positive feedback reduces discomfort and anxiety.
Managers unintentionally deliver sugarcoated feedback because of the illusion of transparency. The illusion of transparency makes the communication vague and the receiving end can misinterpret the intent of the feedback. It is where people are so focused on their own intense feelings and intentions that they overestimate the extent to which their inner world come across to others resulting in the words may be too vague to convey their true intent.
In order to avoid misinterpretation of feedback you could dispel any incorrect assumptions by asking questions or by requesting managers to use precise, explicit terms when delivering feedback. If your manager doesn’t ask you to rearticulate what they have told you, you can try using statements that begin with “So if I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying…”. As the person receiving the feedback, you should not fear the negative feedback. As an employee negative feedback should be a motivation that leads you to grow to be a better employee. It may be hard in our culture, a high context one, to receive negative feedback but just hearing positive feedback would make you a stagnant employee in his/her comfort zone.