The sandwich technique

August 11th, 2011 by Slabs | Print The sandwich technique

A couple years ago I read a book by Mary Kay, the founder of Mary Kay cosmetics, called “Mary Kay on People Management“. The best advice I took from the book was what she called the “sandwich technique”. Whenever you’re going to delivery a criticism to someone sandwich it with a positive comment first, next make the criticism, and then follow up with another positive comment.

I thought this was great advice, and now I have scientific studies that show why it works. According to Daniel Kahnemann, the founder of behavioral economics, we have two selves: one that is experiencing the present, and one that recalls our past experiences. After an event has passed, the ‘present’ self has no recollection of what occurred, only the part of us that remembers the event is relevant. Our ‘memory’ self is fairly bad about recalling the experience that occurred.

In fact, the last part of the experience counts the most for what our memory will use to rate the experience as positive or negative. By giving positive reinforcement at the end of your criticism, the recipient leaves with the knowledge you wanted to impart but hopefully without resentment or negative feelings toward you.

You can checkout Daniel Kahnemann’s Ted presentation on the riddle of experience versus memory at:


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