Solution Sandwich

Solution Sandwich” – a proposed structure for difficult communications

White bread


White bread

White breada 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 needstate what it is you need

Would you pleaseask 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 breadmore 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.

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