“Solution Sandwich” – a proposed structure for difficult communications
White bread – a genuine statement of empathy or appreciation for the person you are talking to
e.g. I understand how hard it must be to deal with this situation,
or: I appreciate your role in my life so much
I feel (honest feelings, like sad, angry, afraid, guilty) – this builds intimacy and explains reason for request
I need – state what it is you need
Would you please – ask them as specifically as you are able to for the part they might do in meeting your need
e.g. I feel afraid that I am going to hurt your feelings but I feel sad right now and I need some time to myself. Would you please forgive me if I cancel our plans for this weekend?
Or: I feel angry that the kitchen is a mess. I need help in keeping our home neat. Would you please pick 2 nights a week that you can clean up after dinner?
Or: I feel guilty that I have not been able to help as much around here as I used to. I need to apologize for so much falling on you. Would you please help me brainstorm about what I am able to do that would help even out the load?
White bread – more honest empathy, perhaps an honest statement of appreciation for hearing your request.
e.g. Thank you for listening to me through this; it is so important to me that we understand each other and each other’s needs.
There are three levels of “muscle” you can use with a Solution Sandwich: 1, 2 and 3. One involves saying, I need. Two involves saying, I really need, and Three involves saying, I really need and if you do not, I will…then stating a consequence. Try not to let it get to level 3 by using the Solution Sandwich as soon as you’ve identified there is a problem.