Have you ever been in a situation where you had to reprimand an employee? Or how about confront a friend or family member about their actions that hurt your feelings or came across the wrong way?
If you're anything like me, you probably want to give them a piece of your mind LOUD and CLEAR but you and I both know that we cannot effectively communicate with anyone when we are angry and spitting hate at the other person. So I've been practicing the concept of Love Sandwiches for about 10 years now or ever since I've been in Supervisory or Upper Management roles in previous careers.
When you have to bring in an employee to discuss their performance or reprimand them for an unacceptable action, you can't come across guns blazing and telling them everything they have done wrong. Chances are they already know why you want to talk to them in the first place so I always give them the opportunity to explain why I want to talk to them prior to me saying anything.
For example, "Do you know why I brought you into my office today?" They usually replied with a head nod or a simple yes with an explanation as to why they did what they did and how they will correct it going forward. I give people the space to come to their own conclusion before I say a word.
Then I drop the Love Sandwich on them. Nobody likes to be constantly told what they are doing wrong so I like to start with what they are doing right.
Bottom of sandwich: Give them praise for the things they do well either as an employee, family member or friend. People LOVE hearing what they are great at and actually love getting compliments even when they are hard to receive sometimes. I often share specific examples of things they do well, things they've gone above and beyond for or specifically praise one aspect of their personality that really stands out to me.
Middle of sandwich: Drop the truth bomb. This is where you say what they did wrong, what needs improvement, how they upset you or the family, or whatever interaction that was unpleasant or unacceptable. This is where you talk about the areas of improvement. I always like to write this out before I speak it because sometimes I can use harsh language or too proper of language and it doesn't sound like me which can also be misleading. I don't want others to get the feel that someone is MAKING me do this. I want them to know that I genuinely care and I want to help them work through this challenge that we are currently having.
Top of sandwich: This is where you give them praise again and reassure them that you will get through this together. You will also want to empathize with them and let them know that you can understand things from their perspective and what they did what they did or thought the way they thought. This is where you will have to remove yourself from the situation and gain a better understanding of how they process thoughts, action and feelings and understand where they are coming from.
People really love it when you can empathize with their situation and genuinely care about them and why they do the things they do. Who knows? You might actually learn something new about this person because you were able to allow them the space to open up to you! Make sure that whatever they say to you in private, stays that way. Often times when you allow others the space to trust you an open up, they expect you to keep their words confidential, as you should.
So that is it! A Love Sandwich. This works in so many situations. Employees. Clients. Friends. Family. Kids. You name it. Anytime you need to have an uncomfortable conversation with someone, create the time and space that works for both of you to sit down and have a meaningful conversation around the topic at hand. This will allow you both some time to think about what you want to say prior to saying hurtful things in the heat of the moment.
I know I have said hurtful things that I later regretted far too many times. It hurts my heart to know that I can never take back those words. I'm not perfect and still sometimes loose my shit when I'm talking to someone but I try my best to make sure that I can reflect on what I want to effectively communicate to the other person and set up a time that I can have a heart to heart where we both feel heard and understood.
Essentially, a Love Sandwich is a meaningful effective conversation where you share what you love about the person, what you'd like to work on, repeat what you love about them and how you understand where you both are coming from. It's simple really. Be a good human. See things from more than one perspective. Tell them what they are great at before you tell them what they need to work on. Say it with kindness and with love. Be authentically you and express your concern and how you're willing to help them through this challenge.
If you loved this, please share with a friend on social media! I'd also love to hear your thoughts if this works for you or if you've tried a Love Sandwich before. Send me your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Instagram @Sausha.Davis. Can't wait to hear from you!
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