The Sandwich Technique to Deliver Bad News or Complaints

Among the many etiquette skills presented in our seminars, the one I enjoy sharing most is one of the simplest. It’s the Sandwich Technique; a tool managers use when they have to deliver unpleasant news, resolve a conflict, address a troubling situation or make a constructive complaint.

It’s easy and effective. Compliments and positive statements “sandwich” each side of the unpleasant news, thus making it easier to digest.

Follow these tips for best results:

  1. Begin the conversation with a genuine compliment and positive statement about the person in a non-judgmental, calm, and congenial tone of voice.
  2. When moving into the meat of the matter, use transition words such as regrettably, unfortunately, or however.  Be specific.  It’s best to state no more than two items to improve. This is not the time to air your laundry list of gripes.
  3. Remain calm throughout and speak in a low and even tone of voice.  State the facts and don’t get emotional.
  4. Maintain an open and inviting body language. You don’t want to appear closed off, with your arms or hands folded.
  5. When an apology is warranted, don’t skirt it. Say “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” and show sincere regret as described in last month’s tip… [click here.]
  6. Suggest specific ways to resolve the matter so the two of you can move forward.
  7. End with positive and encouraging statements that will help renew the relationship and allow everyone involved to feel good about the conversation that just took place.
  8. Follow up a few days later to see how the person felt about the conversation and confirm all is resolved or if further discussion is needed.

Its application is infinite. Use the Sandwich Technique to:

  • Give feedback to employees, supervisors, and co-workers
  • Resolve personal situations with family members, relatives, friends, and neighbors
  • Express your complaints to vendors, suppliers, store personnel and the general public

If you practice this technique and make it a part of your life, you will be on the path to good leadership. You will be someone who cares about maintaining a relationship whenever an adverse situation arises.  We all have conflicts in our lives. What’s important is how we handle them. The Sandwich Technique lets you build and maintain relationships without tearing down friendships or professional relationships. I hope you try it soon.

Question:  Let’s us hear from you if you have any examples of how the Sandwich Technique has help you in your daily life.

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