Feedback: Candy on the Table

OR 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!

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict
This entry was posted in Trainer Reflections and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Feedback: Candy on the Table

  1. Dear Zhenya,
    Thank you for this post. Somehow feedback often tastes like medicine when I’m on the receiving end and it’s evaluative. I like the candy metaphor much better and hope that it can always be the kind of feedback I give. I also think it’s great to have a metaphor explicitly, so that intentions in giving feedback are clear. That makes it all the sweeter.


    • Zhenya says:

      Dear Anne,

      Thank you for reading, and for leaving your thoughtful (as always!) comment. It sounds (between the lines) that it tastes like bitter medicine on the receiving/evaluative end? I am wondering now if ‘masking’ the medicine taste in a candy shape is another option?…

      Agree that being explicit about the metaphor is helpful in itself (about feedback, and perhaps about other PD and learning tools)

      Thank you for reading and thinking together!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Trainer Input during Group Feedback | Wednesday Seminars

  3. Pingback: Your Feedback Method Does Not Work! | Wednesday Seminars

  4. Pingback: Peer Feedback Tips | Wednesday Seminars

Eager to hear what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s