Sandwich Diplomacy

Standing in Integrity: Part 1: Sandwich Diplomacy

Joe, my smart son in law, loves Zingerman’s Sandwiches. Zingerman’s Deli has what seems like hundreds of choices to pick from, so it is difficult to decide what to love when you’re hungry. I might continue to think about Zingerman’s (I do love their pickles), but I’m writing an article about Sandwich Diplomacy, and these aren’t the kind of sandwiches I’m
talking about.                                                                                                            ( Melina & Joe>>>)

I also love working with people, and entering into a ‘thinking partnership’ with my clients. Many of them struggle with asking for what they want. I’m guessing this comes up for you, too? Yes?  I know you are a nice person. You like making other people happy. And in order to do that, you don’t rock the boat. Maybe you give in when you don’t want to. Maybe you say, “Whatever you would like to do is okay with me”. Sound familiar? Asking for what you want turns out to be really hard. (There are many reasons for this). But, there comes a time when you decide you’re ready to leave the ‘passive’ voice behind, and take a more active role in your own life. And you can begin, with small steps in small moments, to initiate larger changes. For people who find asking for what you want intimidating, a good tool to use is Sandwich Diplomacy.

What the heck is that, you say? Here is my definition:
Sandwich: To insert between two other things.
Diplomacy: Skill in managing negotiations, handling people, etc., so that there is little or no ill will, tact.

So here’s how it works for the purposes of asking for what you want. By using two positive statements sandwiched around a more difficult ‘asking’ statement, you have an easier time stating your needs.The bonus is, the other party also has an easier time hearing what you have to say. What, say you? Here are a couple of examples.

As a volunteer who wants to say no:
“This committee is doing amazing work, and the gala you are talking about sounds like a winner. My schedule is packed right now, and I won’t be able to contribute. The beauty of your mission is, others will get behind you.”

See what I mean? Two positive statements sandwiched between the asking statement. A little more palatable for those of us who have difficulty saying what we want.

Two more examples:                                

As an employee who wants to make a request:
“Because our company values education and training, I’m requesting funds to go to a conference in Atlanta. This department has a strong tradition of innovation and development, and I want to be a part of that.”

As a friend or family member who wants to set some boundaries:
“I love coming home after a long day of work, and spending time catching up with you. I would like you to clean up the kitchen before I get here. Then we can make a cup of coffee and sit down and relax together.”

Are you, at this point, saying, yeah, right! I ‘ll ask, but what if they say no?” Fear, that the answer may not be what we want it to be, keeps us small and prevents us from asking in the first place. But, go ahead and try it on for size. If they push back, then you have valuable information. Did they not hear you? Repeat the phrase. If they did hear you, and they begin to argue, repeat the phrase. If they did hear you, and still say no, then you know where you stand. You can make the next move, make a different choice, make a plan to leave, etc…..

Begin taking steps to stand tall, right now, using Sandwich Diplomacy. And it’s  not crunchy peanut butter spread thick between two slices of Zingerman’s Chocolate Cherry bread that I’m talking about. Although that’s fabulous too.

I’d love to know your experience using this tool, so please share!