Years ago, I painted a giant acrylic canvas and was never quite happy with it. It sat on my easel wanting attention until I moved, when it was tucked beside a pile of books in a storage unit. I pulled it out more than a year later when I was finally ready to complete it. On the swirling backgrounds of plums, creams, and greys, I painted this quote by Julia Child: “Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”
And I still didn’t like it. I wanted to paint over it, but was hesitant. While I waited for inspiration to strike again, I hung it in the entry of my house.
When I was visiting my parents at their mega-RV- mansion in Arizona last December, I was discussing art with my mom. I told her about this painting that I was never really happy with. I flipped through the hundreds of photos in my phone to find a shot of the painting to show her.
Expecting the obligatory mom response of “Oh, honey! It’s beautiful!”, I was puzzled when she looked at the photo and remained silent.
“Well?” I prompted.
“Um. Yeah. It’s pretty bad, honey.”
Well, at least she called me “honey.”
Earlier this year, I was at a retreat and nabbed some alone time with an actual professional artist who had been telling us about the “Love Sandwich.” That’s where we request feedback to be snuggled in love by asking first what works about a piece, then asking what doesn’t work, and then asking for more feedback of what is great about it. We’re all human and feedback can be hard to take. This seemed like a nice approach.
I told her about my mom and the Julia Child painting and she visibly cringed. She reminded me about The Love Sandwich method and invited me to use it next time I was asking for someone’s thoughts about something I had made.
Armed with this sandwich idea, I continued on with my work, and wouldn’t you know it, over the course of one week three clients were struggling to have difficult conversations with well-meaning loved ones. And thus the Conversation Sandwich was born!
The principle is the same, but instead of asking for feedback it’s about asking for what we need in relationship.
The Conversation Sandwich – Top
We start our sandwich, the bread and mayo, if you will, with delicious acknowledgment:
I am so touched that you want to spend time with our newborn and support us…
I have missed you so much and it hurts me that we haven’t talked very much…
You are such an special part of my life and it’s really important to me that we spend time together…
The Conversation Sandwich – Middle
And then we add the meat, which is the request we have of the situation so that it be different:
…and I would love your support in giving us time as a newborn family before we let the world in.
Can we talk about that…?
…And even though I’ve moved to a different city, I would love to find ways for us to stay in touch. Do you ever use Skype…?
…And it feels like we’ve both been really preoccupied. I would love it if we could make a plan to go for a walk…
The Conversation Sandwich – Bottom
The sandwich is complete when we add the lettuce (let us!) and the second piece of bread:
…Our baby is so lucky to have you as a grandmother and I’m so lucky to have you in my corner on this!
…I would feel so much less homesick if I could have regular chats with you about what I’m missing back home…we could even enjoy some wine and make a date of it!
…I have some time next week and I have been dying to ask you about your kitchen renovation!
See? Easy. Acknowledge/spackle on some sincere flattery, make a request, and throw in some sweetness. Done.
Happy conversatin’! I so love sharing these thoughts with you each week and I invite you to let me know about your riotous success as you ask for what you want. Your healthy communication is really important to me. (See what I did there? SANDWICH.)
Get Real, Sexy Real
Tara Caffelle is a Relationship and Communication coach. She is passionate about creating connected, almost-uncomfortable-to-watch relationships that are based in Sexy Communication and Big Lives worth rolling around in.
Tara is based in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver and offers custom-designed coaching programs. To claim your free 90+ minutes and see what might be possible for your own super coupledom (or persondom), find a time here.
Have a question for Tara? Have an idea for a Hump Day conversation? How about just some thoughts about this thing called life? Let us know here. We’ll answer back. We promise.