The Sandwich Technique

Robert Terson

A while back my friend Lori Richardson posted a blog at her website——and in it mentioned the Sandwich Technique. I had to smile when I read that post because I’ve been using the Sandwich Technique for almost 44 years now, ever since it was taught to me when I was being trained as an advertising salesman in 1969.

The Sandwich Technique is a method of softening the blow when dishing out criticism to someone. With the first “slice of bread” you tell the individual something positive about herself, something that’s going to make her feel good—it can be a trait, accomplishment, you name it. What “it” is doesn’t matter. It only matters that you’re starting out on a positive note and that the individual is complimented and left feeling the glow of what you’ve said.

Next comes the “meat of the sandwich,” the criticism itself. Hopefully you have the person’s wellbeing in mind, and that your criticism is delivered in a constructive manner. Keep in mind that you can never deliver constructive criticism if you’re angry, which is why you never should criticize anyone when you’re in the midst of an emotional upheaval. (I wish I could say I practice what I’m preaching 100% of the time–alas….)

After the criticism has been given, you leave the individual with the other “slice of bread,” another positive that’s going to enable the person to feel good about herself and softens the blow of the criticism you just handed out. This second “slice of bread” should be even stronger than the first.

The beauty of the Sandwich Technique is that it allows the criticism to go down easy, and actually helps motivate the person to improve the error of her ways. Try it the next time you have to tell someone she’s screwing up. You’ll be amazed how well it works.

Of course, you have to care enough about the individual to go through all three stages of the technique, as opposed to just diving in and slamming her. You do care, don’t you…?


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