How to Express Resentments Without Damaging Your Relationship

Written by on August 27, 2018 in Relationships & Sex with 6 Comments

FeedbackWhenever you have truth, it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected.” -Mahatma Ghandi

Up until my mid-thirties, I was terrible at expressing resentments, setting boundaries and speaking my truth to people.  I would keep it all bottled up inside, either blow up after a seemingly small incident or withdraw from the person who was pushing my buttons and my boundaries. I knew that I had to learn how to set boundaries, speak my truth and voice my grievances in a way that felt good to me but I didn’t know how. My other choice was to learn how to shoot laser beams out of my eyes.  

After many imperfect practice attempts in the last several years, I now have no trouble saying no or speaking what is true for me. I’d like to share a simple yet incredibly effective way I found to give feedback and voice a grievance without damaging the relationship: The Feedback Sandwich.

Though I cannot point you to a source, I really love a saying I heard years ago: “ ‘And’ connects, ‘but’ divides.” The feedback sandwich is composed of two ‘and’s and no ‘but’s. It’s simple, beautiful and super effective!

Here is a scenario:

Imagine that you purchased a used car in good condition and you are happy with the price you paid for it. You love your car! Your uncle and aunt come over to visit from out of state in a few weeks. They see your new car and ask you how much you paid for it. Your uncle decides to look up the car and tells you that you could have paid $500 less for it. You feel hurt and violated. You regret telling them the price you paid and spend the rest of the night biting your tongue and saying semi-fake niceties to your uncle to overcompensate for your resentment of his corrective advice when you haven’t asked for it.

The next morning, everything is forgotten and everyone’s in a different space but you. You feel that your uncle has undermined your decision-making power and given you negative feedback when you had already purchased the car and it was too late. You love your uncle but you can’t shake off that icky feeling. What do you do? Well, you take a bite of the feedback sandwich!

The formula is simple:

Positive statement (appreciation)+AND+negative statement (your grief)+AND+positive statement (appreciation).

Here is what you can say to your uncle using this framework:

Uncle John, I really appreciate that you are such a conscious consumer and your research skills are superb. AND I felt a little violated and undermined when you told me that I paid $500 too much when I had already purchased the car. AND I am grateful for your care for me to get the most for my buck. I felt that I need to say this to you before you and Aunt Marie went back to Florida.”

This way, you can appreciate the positive intent behind your uncle’s words, don’t push down your true feelings about it and refrain from writing your uncle off.

All the pieces of a sandwich matter, not just the meat! It is the same when we are giving feedback. I confess that I can’t do this 100% of the time, especially when I am really hurt. But when I can, I feel like an adult in charge of her life, who respects herself and knows how to communicate her needs, boundaries and grievances with ease. I feel powerful. All because of learning how to sandwich the truth between two pieces of goodness!

It does take practice but it doesn’t take forever to get it right. I recommend practicing with little hurts that don’t have too much of an emotional pull on you. If you freak out and say the worst thing that comes to your mind, forgive yourself and practice apologizing instead! We are never out of opportunities to grow. 

What are some ways you have learned to successfully give feedback, set your boundaries and speak your truth?

Banu-SekendurBanu Sekendur, MA is an intuitive and a psychotherapist turned relationship coach. Her purpose is to help people grow personally and spiritually through the complexities of their relationships. You can contact her through her website and Facebook.

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  1.' Hiền Luka says:

    Tks ad of Conscious Life News…if the correct answer these questions,i think… you are intelligent…
    OTREDVK play now o.O ~>

    Tks for this post: You can use the Feedback Sandwich to communicate your needs, boundaries and grievances with ease. It’s powerful. All you need to do is sandwich the …

  2.' Brittny says:

    Thank you so much for this. I struggle a lot with this area in my life. I’m always concerned with how to say things. Normally, I keep it inside and stew and brew and get upset and either pull away from the person, think ill thoughts about them, or just say whatever. I love the idea of tactfully complimenting the person and then adding my grievances with ‘and’ — it’s a way of validating my expressing my concerns and not holding on the grudge. My concern is also the way the person will react to my grievance and respond in turn. How do I then respond while keeping my cool but not sit there stewing on the inside?

    • Banu Sekendur says:

      Hi Brittny, There isn’t a blanket answer to this. Each experience is different. Is this a recurring situation? Sometimes we have to process our anger, disappointment or frustration beforehand and give ourselves time before we go to them. Sometimes it’s in the moment and it’s harder to keep calm and collected. There is a great book (and technique) that can help you further this skill. It’s called “Non-Violent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg.

      Ultimately, we can’t control how people will respond. You might have a fear around receiving anger from people and it might be a long-term issue. Or you might fear losing their love if you spoke your truth. So there will be some need for internal work around that. This is why I said there isn’t a blanket solution. Marshall has many videos on Youtube as well. Hope this helps. Thank you for commenting and your question. Banu

  3. Banu Sekendur says:

    Thank you for your kind words, Hien. Glad you found it helpful!

  4.' Brittny White says:

    Thank you Banu. You’ve definitely hit the nail on the head with your response. I do have some fears around receiving anger from people and I do fear losing their love, like, and/or acceptance if I speak my truth. I’m going to look into that book.

    •' Banu Sekendur says:

      Awesome, Brittny! You’ll get a lot out of the book. I am glad that my comment helped and am available for a private session if you needed help clearing that pattern. You can do it! Wish you the best on your journey! ♡

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