For Feedback Part 2

For Feedback Part 2

It’s Christmas (or Thanksgiving if you prefer).The family’s come round. You’ve cooked a turkey and all the trimmings. It’s all come together beautifully and everyone’s sitting round the table tucking in.


Auntie Mabel pipes up. “Shame about these potatoes. I always think roasts should be soft on the outside.” You smile sweetly.

“I don’t know,” Uncle Peter replies, “They aren’t well done enough for me. And the bird is greasy. Could someone pass the gravy?”

“Well I think it’s all perfect.” That’s your brother, ever the peacemaker, although you notice he’s avoiding the potatoes too. “Thanks for doing the cooking, sis.”

There’s a general nod of agreement and then someone changes the subject.

Later, over the washing up, your little sister brings up the subject of the dinner again. “I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it,” she says, “But I read somewhere if you put two halves of a lemon inside the bird, it cuts through the grease – makes the meat a bit easier to digest.”

The last comment of the day comes from your husband, as he’s climbing into bed. “Triumphant dinner, darling. The gravy was particularly delicious. We should look for another recipe for roast potatoes though, they were the only weak point in what was otherwise a masterpiece.”


When I posted about feedback last week, I said I was in favour of any feedback. Some of you disagreed, and I can see why. The Mabels and Peters of this world are tactless and ungrateful. Some might say they should have followed the maxim “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” and in the context of a family dinner, that’s probably true. But on the other hand, feedback is useful. If you can get past way it’s given, they have a valuable contribution to make, which might improve next year’s dinner – the potatoes were disappointing and the meat was OK, but greasy.

The brother’s feedback is nice, because it makes you feel appreciated, and more likely to persevere (host again next year), but it’s not actually very honest. Or very useful if you’re trying to improve.

Your sister is tactful and useful – she makes a concrete suggestion in a way which invites you to take feedback as it should always be taken and given: as feedback on the product not the producer.

And the husband, of course, is the best of all. He sticks to specifics (gravy, potatoes), gives a feedback sandwich (good, bad, good) and he makes it completely non-personal (we not you).

But if you can train yourself to receive feedback constructively, all feedback has its value, even at its most tactless.



Filed under Writing

2 responses to “For Feedback Part 2

  1. Lyn

    Giving feedback on a meal can be tricky. Sometimes no matter what you say (negatively) you can’t win. It’s not like giving feedback on a written piece where you can sandwich the negative (even though the husband tried) Personally, I like my roast potatoes crispy outside and soft inside. LOL you could just serve me a plate of roast potatoes and I’d be a happy little Vegemite 🙂 When you’re cooking for a crowd, someone – usually several someones – is going to be hard to please. Feedback can be valuable, and I’m happy to accept feedback if the person giving it knows what they’re talking about. I’m even happy to discuss how to improve the meal for next time. But there’s always Aunt Gertrude who isn’t happy unless she’s complaining about something.

    I had a friend for dinner a few weeks ago. He almost choked on his piece of steak, which I had defrosted in the microwave before grilling it. He simply coughed it up, threw it in the bin and ate the rest of his dinner. It was probably the most embarrassing dinner I’d ever served. I learnt one thing that night…never defrost steak in the microwave 😀

    • I agree that feedback on cooking is a little different – after all, cooking for someone is a gift, and should be treated accordingly – but I think the analogy still holds true.
      I’m with you on a plate of roast potatoes too. My Grandma made the best roast potatoes I’ve ever tasted, sadly mine don’t even come close!

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