“I” Statements vs. “You” Statements – Part 2

In Part One of this three-part series, I introduced “I” Statements vs. “You” Statements and pointed out that by starting with “You” we sound accusatory.  The statements, whether intended or not, sounds inflammatory to the listener.  When we start with “I” statements we are in effect saying, “Hey, I could be wrong here . . . ”  The second example gives a little room for acceptance by the listener, it gives them room to save their self-esteem and maybe ego as well.

In this part I want to talk about “I” message construction.  There are a couple of approaches to this and I’ll share both with you and you can decide which one fits your style the best.

Three-Step Example

  1.  I feel . . . (insert feeling word) frustrated
  2. When you look away from me while I am speaking to you.
  3. I would prefer that you look at me directly when I am speaking and I will do the same.

Four-Part Example

  1. I feel like I am . . .  acting immature.
  2. I don’t like . . . to be treated this way.
  3. Because that makes me . . . (insert feeling word) shut down completely.
  4. Can we find a better way to talk to each other?

Try both the three-part example and the four-part example and see which feels most natural to you.  I like to make that decision by which one I can most easily remember, which one feels most natural.

If an “I” message contains “you-messages”, it can be problematic in conflict situations.

For example:  “I feel . . . , when you… ., and I want you to . . .”

This can put the receiver on the defensive in a dispute.

Instead, use a phrase that begins with “I want”  You could say, “I want to think about this further.  Have you already decided?”  Rather than, “It seems like you have already decided so I guess I don’t have any input here.”

In Part 3 we will discuss this technique with application toward self-defeating thoughts.

Yours for better parenting,

Rich