Breakfast is endlessly quoted as being the most important meal of the day, but very little attention is given to what people mean when they say “breakfast.” My idea of an ideal start to the day may be very different to yours. Even then, what we would love to eat every morning doesn’t always match up with what we should eat. A breakfast of champions is unlikely to contain a whole chocolate bar and a pint of beer, as much as we might like it to.
Feedback is much the same. So what constitutes feedback of champions? We’ve matched four common breakfasts with their feedback equivalents.
Coffee and a cigarette – Negative, opinion based
Lacking in nutrition and leaving a lot to be desired as an everyday option, millions of people still get by on it daily. Negative opinions are the worst for two reasons, they demotivate you while giving no clear guidance on how you could improve.
Pancakes, syrup and bacon – Positive, opinion based
Although this option tastes good it’s definitely bad for you in the long run. Like pancakes and bacon, positive opinions are nice to have every once in a while. If they are all you have over a long period then things go wrong. Positive opinions may offer praise, but they contain no actionable steps to improve your product or service.
Fry up – Negative, fact based
Better than the pancakes, but only just. Like a fry up, negative, factual feedback gives you a lot to work through. Hiding in the greasy fried egg of “this didn’t work because” and slightly burnt sausages of “it would have worked better if” there are still good bits of fat and protein, actionable suggestions for improvement. The problem is chewing your way through the rest of the meal. This kind of feedback is the one that older generations are most used to giving, and like a fry up it doesn’t get served often. As we are increasingly seeing as Generation C enters the workplace, large feedback-dumps once a fortnight simply don’t get you the best results.
However, to blame Gen C entirely is to miss the point. This kind of feedback has never been the most effective. Gen C are just particularly good at letting their bosses know.
A balanced breakfast – Positive, fact based
So what is the best start to the day? In our opinion, it’s something close to a classic German breakfast. Different types of cheeses and cold meats, jams and honey, fresh bread, fruit and vegetables, boiled eggs and smoked fish. The German breakfast is easier to make since there’s very little cooking and contains all the ingredients for a balanced breakfast that will set you up for the day.
It’s not heavy and stodgy, and can be eaten on the go if needs be. If there are unhealthy things in there – negative feedback – then they’re surrounded by healthy things – positive feedback. Not to mix food-based feedback metaphors, but this maps onto the concept of a feedback sandwich. Fact based, positive feedback on either side with some actionable negative feedback in the middle.
To lift a quote from CGP Grey of the Hello Internet podcast, “over time the value of positive feedback [meaning positive opinion] falls to zero.” The first “I liked that, it was good” comment is positively affirming. The same is true of the tenth, but by the 50th almost all of the actual value has disappeared. It’s always nice to hear that people like what you are doing, but if they offer no advice on how to improve then one positive comment is just as good as one hundred.