Compliment sandwiches give me indigestion

Last month, NOI published a tip of the day called “Give a compliment sandwich.”


I think that’s bad advice, and wrote the following reply (which has since been removed from their site, along with the other comments).

I hate compliment sandwiches. They give me indigestion. As soon as I receive an email (or a phone call) that begins with an unsolicited, unrelated compliment, it immediately sets my bullshit detector to high. I know I’m about to get his with a compliment sandwich.

if you need to tell me something, have enough respect for me that you won’t waste my time by forcing me to read a bunch of nonsense designed to make you feel better about yourself.

Mark Suster wrote a great piece called “Why I’d Rather Err on the Side of Direct Feedback Than Pleasantries.”

Read his other posts:

  1. Don’t be a Grin Fucker.
  2. Don’t Sweep Feedback Under the Rug.

Lastly, read Kelly Williams Brown’s “Say what is on your mind without eight layers of filter.”

Join the Conversation


  1. Interesting, Paul. I wonder about the context of the criticism. Is it unsolicited advice? Do you have anything nice to say? I’m in no way perfect at this, but I try not to say things if they’re unkind, especially if no one asked for my opinion and especially, especially if the comment is not particularly useful. We should discuss this further!

  2. The NOI tip of day is targeted at organizers. Most of their tips are likely intended for a work context; some are more broadly applicable.

    There’s a difference between “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it” and trying to disguise bad news that you are required to give.

  3. I certainly agree with what you say about disguising bad news. I think in any situation, it is helpful to look for positive things to say. Not to make yourself or the other person feel better for the sake of feeling better, but to actually feel and reflect positivity. Don’t you think its valuable to positive and kind, even when criticism is necessary? Is it possible that the compliments are not actually bullshit?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *