The sandwhich email

These days you would be a fool to not realize any email you send out has a good possibility of being seen by people you originally didnt intend to read the email. These days people forward emails, respond in blind copies to others, or involve other people in the email trail. While you often want a paper trail you need to be careful what those bread crumbs say and how they lead back to you.

Because of those digital breadcrumbs, I tend to write emails using the sandwhich method. In the workplace,  it us often best (especially with the younger generation) to provide feedback that consists of two positive bits and one negative bit. That is referred to as the sandwhich method.

In email correspondence where you have to be stern or negotiate some delicate matter, the sandwhich method also applies. And it makes psychological sense.

Start off with highlighting a positive aspect of the partnership or thanking the individual for their effort thus far. As such you start off the interaction and eventual email chain with setting a positive tone. Then add some matter of fact information. This you then follow with the negative or not-so-positive aspect. By the time that reader gets to that negative chunk they have been initially put at ease and given neutral informative bits to process. The negative sentence (s) is more palatable as it has been eased into. You then end the email with a larger positive goal or other bit of information.

By ending on a positive note, you are hoping that the “recency” effect takes hold. Hopefully, what they remember or what their mind/body reacts to will be the more positive sentence bits. Now also remember that because the email started off positively there is the primacy effect. Meaning, the first tone is what is remembered.

Now when the email receiver still has a freak out and forwards the email to others, for most you will look calm, cool and collected. Meanwhile the email forwarder will appear to be the angry nutty one. Mission accomplished.

Always think sandwich.

4 replies »

  1. I like your sandwich email idea, Mimi. In reality, this recipe works in all situations, not only emails. You’re the psychologist – you know that. It’s also the tack that a good salesman/lady uses to initiate and then close a sale. 🙂


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