Crafting a Compliment Sandwich

“Sharing a Compliment sandwich” is a story of our coaching ideas and how they transfer into real-life with parenting, dealing with employees, and really anybody, anytime.  

The whole idea is, “Kindness is not a weakness; it’s a superpower from an evolved person. Be kind more often.”

Like I tell my kids, “Compliments and Thank-You’s are free.  Use them often!”

I think the first time I heard the technique of a compliment sandwich was when I was listening to a coach talk about how he would try to induce changes in his athletes.

 If he had something that needed to be changed…Before telling an athlete, he would give them a compliment: Big things, small things, or anything in between. He would also follow the changes, coaching, and critiques with another compliment.

He had subconsciously been doing it to me as his middle linebacker for about three years before it finally became apparent. Thank God he gave me that. I use it with my coaching and with my kids all the time.

I know I’m not the perfect boss, but I certainly hope that I can ask for changes at work in a non-jerk way.

 A compliment sandwich allows for this.




See how that works?

Here are just a couple of examples to help drive the idea home.

From me to a young soccer player.

“Hey there, Julia, you sure are fast!   Man, you can really run!”

“Say, the next time the ball comes to you, I don’t want you to just kick it in whatever Direction you’re standing.  You’re better than that now.   I want you to turn your body and try to kick the ball toward the actual goal that you’re trying to score in.   That one over there.  You know we’re going that way, right? Good. That’s a lot better way to play soccer. Doesn’t that make sense?

“I like your shoes; they sure look cool.”

Man, that does sound good.  It’s easy! 

Especially when compared to the alternative.  Which, no matter how you say it, is going to come across as, “Hey idiot, you really suck at soccer.”

You get it, I’m sure.  Easy.   But just like two slices of wonder bread and a Kraft cheese square is technically a sandwich.  There are different levels of the Compliment Sandwich game.

You can start to craft masterpieces as you mature, practice, and gain confidence in your ability.   You can always step up your game.

Wife:  “Hey honey, what did you think about the twice-baked chicken goulash casserole? I got the recipe from my favorite grandmother Leota.”

Husband:   “Man Leota was great, wasn’t she? Thank God she passed down some of her most outstanding qualities to you.  Just like her, you spread love and smiles wherever you go.

Yeah, I’m not sure.  This one wasn’t one of my favorites.

But…It’s hard to break my top ten lists of favorite foods when I’m married to a kick-ass cook like you.  If you were ever on a cooking TV show… you know, you should do that sometime; you’d be awesome.  Oh, where was I?  Oh yeah, I think if you were ever on a TV show and had to win a million dollars, there are a few other dishes I like better.  Yum!

Not bad, right?

Look, I’m not a pro.   My Compliment sandwiches are good. They’re easy going down and digestible, but they are nowhere near the Corned Beef and Pastrami from Sarge’s Deli on 3rd Ave in NYC.

The idea, though, is that there is a superior, kinder, and more forward way to move about in life.  I’m always experimenting with what works better, and I try to pass along the valuable pieces where I have succeeded.  

A compliment sandwich is effective, makes a change, and still leaves the recipient satisfied.   

Add this to your repertoire of life skills.

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