Feedback: Candy on the Table

by Zhenya

on beliefs about feedback

As you already know, I love metaphors. I use them in class (a lot) and in writing (less often) and I like how they shape what I am trying to say or convey and make the point less ‘direct’ towards the other person but more focused on the subject, or the idea itself.

I remembered one metaphor that I like using when talking about feedback on a training course: both giving and receiving it can be very similar to sharing (or accepting) a candy** from someone.


 image credit: from Flickr by Itinerant Tightwad, CC 2.0

Let me list my list of reasons why this metaphor works for me:

  • a candy can be given by someone as a sign of friendship, or politeness — both are true for feedback on our teaching;

  • a box of candy can be placed on a table for everyone to share (in that case, you can decide how many you want to eat, if at all);

  • even if a candy is offered directly to you, you can still decide whether or not you want to eat it (in any case, you would thank the person sharing it with you);

  • you can’t eat too many of them (well, if you do, you won’t feel good);

  • if there are several types of candy, you can decide which to share with whom, or you can give suggestions (for example, ‘black chocolate are my favorite’ but it will still be the other person’s choice to eat them or not);

  • you won’t feel bad if someone does not like the same type of chocolate as you do;

  • if someone says ‘no thank you’ for the candy, you won’t feel offended because they refused (they might have been on a diet, or allergic, or something else); you might even ask what other desserts they prefer.

What else have I missed in this metaphor? How else can you describe feedback giving and receiving? What metaphors or comparisons work for you in this aspect?

**Note: I don’t remember where I first heard this comparison, or who from. If you come across a source, or happen to be the author, please drop a line in the comments!