Recently I was asked to evaluate my manager's work. One of the questions was whether he is a "tell and sell" person (I don't remember the exact phrase however). I'm not sure what this idiom means (or whether it is an idiom at all), but my initial understanding was that this means a kind of person who never accepts other points of view. Later I thought that this could mean something different, for example a person who does what he says.

I'm not a native speaker, so I would like to know, does the idiom exist, and what does it mean exactly.

  • 1
    ‘Tell and sell’ sounds to me more like a catchphrase than an idiom. An idiom is something sufficiently embedded in a language or dialect to be familiar to most of its native speakers. ‘Tell and sell’ is a made up phrase designed to be easily memorable, but useful only for mmm
    – Tuffy
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 3:43
  • Sorry: my send button is next to my delete button. ...... but only useful to salespersons.
    – Tuffy
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 3:54

1 Answer 1


"Tell-and-sell" is one of four methods for conducting performance appraisals.

According to the Development Cooperation Handbook - Guide - Effective communication skills for the appraisal interview

The objective of the tell-and-sell method is to provide feedback to employees about their performance, gain their acceptance of the evaluation and persuade them to follow their superior’s plan for improvement.

The tell-and-sell method is criticised as :

The tell-and-sell method tends to cause defensiveness, lack of trust and poor communication. This approach might be appropriate if an employee has been resistant to change when other approaches have been used or has little interest in participation.

The "tell" part refers to "telling" the subject of the performance appraisal how they have been appraised. The "sell" part refers to "selling" it to them - i.e., convincing them to accept any criticisms made in the appraisal.

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