Mothers Have Needs Too!

Allison Gilbert, LMFT, Santa Cruz Counselor Lic: MFC 24087

Healthy Communication

Do you find it hard to get your partner to hear you? Try the Sandwich Technique for every difficult conversation you need to have. You may find that you can get your point across easily without having to get into any arguments.

 First And Most Important Step: Find a good time to talk. It’s best not to try to communicate in the heat of the moment. Find a quiet, alone time when you are both calm and peaceful. Be considerate of the other person’s ability to have a conversation: Ask if it’s an OK time for the other person to talk. If it’s not, table it for another time or reschedule it.

1. Give a compliment or some kind of positive that generates a heartfelt connection to the other person. Make the first sentence a loving connector that has something to do with the issue you want to address. You can also look deeper at the other person’s good intention in regards to this issue.

 “I (appreciate/admire/enjoy/love/believe in....etc.)"

2. Share your own feelings. What are your fears, anxieties, sadness, confusion, etc. in relation to this issue? (Be careful here not to point a finger in blame but to only speak about your own feelings that come about in response to the issue you want to discuss. Don't use the word, “you” at all.) 

“I feel/felt (confused, angry, distraught, jealous, upset, angry, sad, hurt, etc.) when such and such happened.”

3. Make a request. What is it that you'd like the other person to do instead?  Or what outcome would you like next time this situation/issue comes up?  

“So, I want/need…(to have this happen) next time”

4. Give another compliment.  Here you can use the same sentence as in Step 1 or offer a different appreciation tying the whole conversation together.

Here is an example: One of my client's told me that her husband doesn’t like it when she wants to rewash the dishes he thinks he’s already washed well enough. When she goes to wash the dish in question, he gets mad at her and calls her “OCD”.   So we worked out a sandwich for this situation and she memorized it before she approached him.

She decided to talk to him before they went to sleep that night when they were both calm and the kids were in bed. She asked if it was ok to talk about what happened at dinner the other night. He said, “what is it?” She took that as “ok”.

1. Compliment: She said, “I really love how you make dinner for all of us so often.”

2. Her feelings: “And I really can’t stand it when we use a plate that the dog’s licked off of. It grosses me out.”

3. Request: “So I need to be able to wash a plate that I think is dirty.”

4. Compliment: “I don’t want to make you feel bad when I do that but I really need to do that sometimes.” (This was not a compliment per say but it did show her good intention to not want to hurt his feelings.)

His response was, “Ok.”

So that’s it. It’s pretty simple but the hard part is figuring out how to say what you need to say without any hint of blame in it. You are not communicating anything about someone else’s bad behavior. Instead, you are communicating your own desires and insecurities while at the same time, keeping the bond with the other person by affirming & expressing your good feelings about them.

I recommend you try this technique by rehearsing all of the steps both on paper and memorizing it before you try to use it.