Tips & Advice

From Dr. Liz Herself

December 8, 2019
PNP Sandwich
Positive Woman

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
— Jack Kornfield

Who is your harshest critic?

I criticize myself very easily. Unfortunately, sometimes I also criticize other people too easily for my liking.

When I recently told my husband that I think I am maturing, he turned to me with his usual good humor and asked, “Why would you want to do that?”

I always appreciate his efforts to keep things lighthearted, especially when I am down on myself. What I meant by feeling more mature is because I am learning to understand that criticism is my first response, and I need to wait a moment to let it pass so that I can see the good in a situation or in another person.

It’s the end of the year now where most of us take stock of our year, whether it’s in your job, or our household, or your own small business. We wrap up this year and start to think about the year to come.

To help us look back on this year, and plan ahead for the year to come, how would you like a sandwich?

How about a “P-N-P sandwich”? This is a “positive, negative, positive” sandwich and it refers to giving feedback in a way that can be well-received.

I learned about the P-N-P sandwich when my kids were little.

The first “P” is to start out with something nice to say. Something positive about how the person handled a situation.

The middle of the sandwich, or the “meat”, is a suggestion for improvement. I learned it as “N” for  “negative”, but a well-worded suggestion for how to do something better next time is not necessarily “negative”.

The last P reminds you to follow the suggestions for improvement with another comment on something that you appreciate about the person and what they’re doing well.

I have been in Toastmasters since 2015. We use the P-N-P method of feedback at every meeting. Each speaker gets evaluated by a coach, who starts out with something the speaker did well. The coach then gives suggestions for improvement with the next speech. Last, the coach/evaluator wraps up with more positive feedback and encouragement for future efforts.

My recent realization is that I need to use this method more often on myself.

I go very easily to calling myself out on what I didn’t get done. Or maybe it is ongoing frustration with myself over the messy state of my desk. I easily criticize myself for things I didn’t do right.

Now that I’m wrapping up 2019, I’ve decided to use the P-N-P method on myself.

Instead of going straight for criticizing what I didn’t do this year, or not up to my standard of perfection, I am taking a moment to remember my accomplishments.

When I was talking with my husband about not quite meeting one of my business goals for 2019, he showed me a button to click on the report. The button made the report change from just this month to show the whole year. This view showed me that my business grew 5% over the last year.

This was surprising to me, given that we took three weeks during the summer to travel to Kenya. That was an unforgettable experience that I look forward to doing again as soon as possible. I was very nervous to leave my business for that stretch of time. I’m working hard on setting things up in my business and in my life so we can do even more travel and give back to people and the planet.

Your brain believes what you tell it. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or cannot, you are right.”

As we wrap up 2019, if you are taking stock of your year and find out you are being your own worst critic – a common human brain pitfall – try the P-N-P sandwich for yourself.

Acknowledge your accomplishments.

Plan steps for improving your life in 2020, the year of clear vision.

Give yourself the kudos you deserve.

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