© 2009 Ugur Akinci
You can use the “Hamburger Paradigm” of writing not only for technical articles and copy but for other types of communications as well, ranging from emails to criticism.
In “Hamburger Communication” the principle is simple: sandwich your criticism in between two sweet layers of positive comment. This is sometimes also known as “1+1+1” or “2+1+1” method of constructive criticism.
For example, when you’re writing an email to a colleague to criticize her latest findings, (1) start by saying one or two positive things about her findings and/or about her method. Or past work. Make sure the positives are genuine and supportable by the facts and not just puffballs. Such fake flattery is worse than saying nothing at all. It will really damage your credibility. Even when you’re tempted to do it, don’t praise anyone on false pretenses.
Then, (2) express your main criticism as briefly as possible. Be succinct, sharp, to the point. And when you’re done, move on. Do not belabor the point.
(3) End your email by saying again something positive, sandwiching the bitter pill in between two layers of delicious pastry. If you feel like it, you can always conclude your communication with your desire to “get together soon and have a lunch” or a similar social possibility. Those type of closers always leave a good impression on the recipient. Or forward an article or something that you think the other person might be interested in to show your basic goodwill and blunt the sharp edge of your earlier criticism.
(An excerpt from my book 101 Ways to Power-Up Your Writing )