Why The Sandwich Technique May Be The Least Assertive Way To Criticize

The sandwich technique is a widely used form of criticism, but it has its drawbacks.

Why the sandwich technique may be the least assertive way to criticize

The sandwich technique is one of the most famous psychological tools, and one of the most used.

You just have to put the name in any internet search engine, and you will get thousands and thousands of results in blogs of psychology, emotional intelligence, communication, sales, marketing, etc. Now … does it really work?

What is the sandwich technique?

The famous sandwich technique is used when we want to communicate a criticism or ask someone for a change in behavior. Since we don’t want the other person to be offended or defensive, we “wrap” the original message in other good things about the person, before and after the main message.

For example:

It is seen that you are a very committed person with your work, but I think that sometimes you can get a little too strict with your colleagues, and that makes us feel overwhelmed; I’m sure you’ll improve it right away, but you’re a crack, and we all like you great .

It is an easy technique to explain and easy to remember, and a great way to be more assertive and improve our people skills.

Disadvantages when applying it to communication

In many cases of therapy, it is a very good technique for people who have special difficulties in saying “no” or setting clear limits in the face of potential abusive situations (in the family, at work, in the partner, etc).

Now, not everything is rosy with the famous sandwich technique. In this article I will tell you how on some occasions, the sandwich technique can be the worst way to be assertive.

Encourages fear of criticism

Using the sandwich technique implies that one believes that your original message is bad. Are the reviews always negative? This is a basic assumption of the technique.

As I think that making a criticism or request for a change of behavior to another person is annoying or even aggressive in itself, I think that I “need” to camouflage my original message between a pile of bread. Is criticism without bread always destructive?

Divert attention from what we really mean. Is that assertiveness?

I have met people who are really obsessed with the sandwich technique, and they can be very overwhelming to deal with.

They have to constantly go around almost everything, always worrying about the thousand ways in which the other person could take their messages the wrong way.

You can end up overthinking, trying to divert attention from your original message, and wasting both people’s time.

Isn’t this another form of passivity that the assertive communication style tries to avoid? We can reveal our latent social awkwardness if we abuse the sandwich.

Constant fear of rejection

Obsessing ourselves with always using the sandwich technique can also indicate that we are very afraid of possible rejection by the other person, and also worry a lot about it.

How do I start? Did I tell you that the clothes you are wearing today fit you very well? But what if I seem too shallow? I better start by congratulating him on the presentation he made last month, which we still remember, and then I tell him about the dismissal, and I finish with that we have loved working with him, but what …

The truth is that, putting so much effort into the way we “dress” our message, we can also be perceived as artificial, superficial, false. It can also indicate the belief that if the other person is offended, it is the responsibility of the sender.

The truth is that, often, no matter how much sugar we put in something, it is up to the other person to receive the message with maturity and a cool head. And that for many layers of bread and pillows that we put, the other person can be offended and angry as well.

It is simply not up to us how the other person takes things. That is your own process.

People are not glass

Another basic assumption of the technique is that people always feel bad about suggestions for improvement, and that to be a good communicator or a very assertive person, we have to sweeten everything.

The truth is that constructive criticism can be made from respect, from the beginning, without “so much bread”, and saying things directly.

Of course, depending on the context and the history we have with that person, it will be very useful to “soften” the ground and do our part so that the other person does not get defensive (if it is a particularly sensitive issue).

Now, it is not mandatory. Moreover, sometimes they will thank us very much for having “cut to the chase”. I insist, direct criticisms can be made in a very respectful way, without having to wrap everything in bubble wrap.

Sometimes the sandwich technique is simply not necessary to have a conversation between two adults, who know that they do not have to take certain criticisms as personal attacks.

Psychotherapy online and in Valencia

Luis Miguel Real

If you think that the way you communicate is worsening your quality of life, the best thing you can do is stop reading articles and take action by going to therapy. If you want to make an appointment with me, visit this page.

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