The Compliment Sandwich

The Compliment Sandwich

Mastering the Art of Delectable Criticism

If giving critical feedback has ever left you feeling close to indigestion, then this alluring approach is sure to soothe your aching appetite.  

Throughout all of my encounters with constructive criticism, there’s been no more effective way to deliver a piece of information that through the one and only Compliment Sandwich. I first encountered this phrase during my freshman year Creative Writing course with University of Colorado graduate student, Monica Koenig. 

The Compliment Sandwich is the action of chronologically placing two very real compliments on either side a piece of constructive criticism, whether giving advice on creative writing, how to ride a bike, or relationships alike. She argued that this is the most positive way to give and receive constructive criticism, and the entire class must abide this way. No need to rush to the grocery store to prepare; all it takes is a little thought. 

How to Make Your Own

Imagine consuming one of your favorite sandwiches. Maybe you’re sitting in an exciting restaurant, ordering from a food truck window, on the phone in your apartment calling for take-out, or simply sifting through the sour milk and funny-looking chicken for those last pieces of bread in the back of your fridge. 

Now that you’re good and hungry, begin to take that sandwich apart. Excluding that side of fries or bowl of fruit, the first essential piece of ‘The Sandwich’ as most commonly referred to includes two slices of bread, or the like, on either side of something delicious inside (I apologize to my gluten-free, breadless, sandwich-topless friends for the stereotypical metaphor; work with me here). Begin to take a daring look inside. 

The outermost layer of the sandwich, ‘the bread’, signifies the compliments delivered to the third party; this leaves the delicious insides of your sandwich, whether it is a burger patty with cheese, peanut butter and jelly, potato chips and Nutella, or whatever other creative foods can fit between two slices of the scrumptious shell. 

‘The insides’ of your sandwich signify the constructive criticism that the third party receives on whatever type of discourse or argument. And thus, a beautiful, little Compliment Sandwich is created: compliment, criticism, compliment. 

Why It’s Important

This eloquent way of forming constructive criticism provides the third party with positive feedback about what went well, information about what to change, and a graceful way of delivering it that will provide the least amount of hurt feelings. The receiver feels encouraged by the initial compliment which provides a safe avenue for the constructive criticism. The discussion ends with a compliment for the receiver to leave uplifted instead of torn down by the feedback. Feel no shame for digging unapologetically into this exquisite creation; from personal experience, it’s undoubtedly a customer favorite.


Compliment: “I love the title and the opening paragraph of this essay. It’s truly engaging and intriguing; you do a great job of hooking your reader from the very first line.”

Criticism: “However, I felt a little lost with your train of thought on this argument. The organization of the essay could be something to work towards revising.”

Compliment: “Regardless, I really appreciate your passion for the stance you argue in this essay; it’s sure to make a great impact on every reader.” 

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.


This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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