Oftentimes I see clients who are interested in practicing better communication skills whether it be with their spouse, partner, coworkers, boss, family members or others.
Desiring close connection and intimacy in relationship with others will mean that we have to have hard, challenging conversations at times throughout our lives.
Conversations that we may just not want to have. I get it. I have been there too. I have had to have difficult conversations on numerous occasions.
I also like to practice what I preach. And something I preach to my clients is what I call the LOVE SANDWICH. Picture a HAM sandwich or whatever meat you like. That sandwich consists of a piece of bread, ham/meat, other condiments such as veggies or maybe you like chips and then you put the other slice of bread on top to finish the sandwich.
Your hard conversation is like that sandwich.
Start with that piece of bread in your conversation. The first slice of bread represents sharing positive attributes such as compliments, things done well, or things working well in your relationship.
Next THE MEAT: Then give them the meat and veggies of the conversation. This part represents the more challenging aspects of your relationship such as things not working so well, things needed different, or changes that are required for the relationship to reach is potential. THAT HARD MEATY part of your conversation.
And the last SLICE OF BREAD: Close the conversation sandwich by putting on that top piece of bread and give them another compliment, thank them for talking, remind them again what is working well in your relationship.
And their you have it, you have just given someone “The Love Sandwich”. The whole conversation, the whole sandwich was intended and given in love, even the hard, meaty part.
Regardless of how the other person responds, when you speak to someone using this approach you are setting the example of health and maturity. You are setting a tone of intention and well-meaning in your relationship. You are being a role-model and who does not want to be a role-model, right?
Here is an example from my own life:
Recently, I had a conversation with my husband around what is working well and not so well around our morning routine. I started by sharing what is working well (the first slice). I informed him that his feeding the dogs and helping our daughter with her morning chores was incredibly helpful. Next, I gave him the meat. I stated what I needed from him which is more assistance with getting breakfast together and other food preparation for the day. Then I closed the conversation by telling him that I am not getting on to him, but I am sharing my needs with him around other ways he can support me. I thanked him (the last slice) for what he is doing around our morning routine and our conversation was done.
I have found in the years of practicing this that our conversations go much more smoothly rather than turning into a big yelling match. We both spoke calmly and were clear in our communication during this conversation.
So whether you have a one time conversation or a conversation that lasts over several days, it is incredibly helpful to use this technique when communicating with others. I encourage you to try it out and see what happens. Did you notice a difference?
No matter how big or small the difference, you are beginning to make some headway towards healthier communication. I commend you for being brave!
Until we talk…Beth