We were all taught to "sandwich" criticism between big fluffy layers of compliments (you're doing great
—just one thing, but great
). This is gentle, but recipients tend to take away the "bread" only, not the "meat," finds a study at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Praise-heavy feedback was fine for novices
: It encouraged them to improve. But it had the opposite effect on "experts," people with advanced knowledge (in French or environmental awareness, for example). What works to motivate them—which may require some fine-tuning on your part—are negative feedback (albeit matter-of-fact and precise) and constructive suggestions ("what if"). More protein, fewer empty carbs.