All of us are familiar with the concept of a sandwich – two slices of bread with something in between. It is not complicated. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make one, or to eat one. I love sandwiches! They are tasty and especially good when you are in a hurry and need something quick to eat. However, I want to talk about a different kind of sandwich in this Tip. It is called the “conversation sandwich.”
If you will recall, there is a left side and a right side to the Model of Human Behavior. The left side represents task-oriented people and the right side represents those individuals who are more people-oriented. The statistical numbers reveal that approximately one-third of the general population is task-oriented and two-thirds are people-oriented.
When structuring your “sandwich,” it is important to keep those statistics in mind. Your first piece of “bread” should be relational in nature, or people-oriented. It might be something as simple as a smile and, “It’s good to see you today,” or, “I hope you are doing well,” or, “How is everything going in your life?” or, “I hope you are having a great day today!” Starting a conversation that way lets whoever you are speaking to know that you care about them as a person.
If you were severely ill and in the hospital, wouldn’t it make you feel better to have your physician come in to see you and say, “Good morning! How’s one of my favorite patients today?” It would make his or her following prognosis easier to handle. Do you see how important this is? It only takes one or two sentences to connect with people by being nice to them. By the way, I hope you are having a great day today, too! See what I mean?
The “meat” of your sandwich comes next and focuses on the task or business at hand. It may be something light, or something heavy. But, regardless, you have already put yourself in a good posture by starting the conversation with something pleasant and kind. You can expound in this part of the sandwich as much as you want to. You can stack it high or keep it thin.
Many people make the mistake of starting off with this aspect of a conversation. They begin by jumping right into the business aspect of a situation, leaving the other person to feel slighted, devalued and more like a task to be done rather than a person with whom you want to connect. I could give you one hundred examples, but I doubt that is necessary. More than likely you have been on the receiving end of that kind of approach at one time or another. It feels cold and uncaring. My hope is that by calling attention to this phenomenon, you will begin to notice what you say to other people and think about this process so that you don’t make that same mistake.
After all of the “meat” of the matter has been addressed, it is time to finish with the last piece of bread. I will bet you can already guess what it is. Yes, you guessed it – it is another kind word that is relationship oriented in nature. It is important to end the conversation on a high note. You might say something like, “I know this situation we just discussed is difficult, but I have a lot of confidence in you and I believe you will be able to handle it.” Or, you may say something as simple as, “I have enjoyed our time together. I look forward to working with you on this project.”
Having been in the world of business for over 30 years, I have seen many deals lost simply because someone did not take two minutes – one on the front-end of the conversation, and one on the back-end of the conversation to be kind and nice to the other person involved. They became so focused on getting the job accomplished that they failed to realize that things could be done more effectively if they would just take the time to show the other person that they really cared. I am sure you have heard the old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” That really is true.
Now, before anyone takes this the wrong way, let me say that I know there may be some extreme circumstances when you do not have time to be nice. For instance, if you are a fire fighter in the middle of putting out a blaze, it probably would not be wise to ask every individual in the burning building, “How are you today?” It might be better to say, “Get out quickly! The building is on fire!!” This only requires a little bit of thought or common sense.
I promise you that this strategic practice works 99% of the time. It just takes a little effort to remember to start and finish your “conversation sandwich” with two slices of bread which are kindness and genuine concern for the other person before going to the “meat” of the matter at hand. I hope you will begin to use the sandwich technique this week. It will change your life, your business and your future! I guarantee it!
Tip: Remember to use the sandwich technique!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm