“You” Statements vs. “I” Statements

In this three part series on “You” Statements vs. “I” Statements, we will define “You” statements and “I” statements and help you to be more aware of them.  They will improve your relationship with your kids and other adults in your life.  They can help to prevent an argument from mushrooming into a full-blown fight. Read this three part series to learn more.

“You just think that I should clean up after you”, “You are always on that phone, reading, texting, and emailing.  I guess they are more important than the people right in front of you.”  “You are thoughtless.  Do you think money grows on trees?”  When you read these, how does it make you feel?  If you respond at all, would it be to also be snarky back, or be willing to have a productive conversation?  These statements are examples of “You” statements.  You statements fix blame or ownership on someone else, rather than yourself.

When we use “You” statements with our kids or anyone else for that matter, we close the conversation.  They imply that someone else has caused the feeling that you have.  Maybe it is anger, resentment, or frustration.  If we stop an thinking about it, it is impossible for someone else to be in control of your emotions let alone ownership.  Yet we do it all the time, we assign our anger to someone else.  Have you ever said, “He made me mad!”  Actually, that is an inaccurate statement, no one can “make” you mad unless you allow them to do so.  We choose our own emotions, even when the words we’re hearing are very accusatory, inflammatory, or even racial in nature.  We still have a choice.

Now you might say, Rich, that is all fine and good, but when I’m mad, things just come out, I don’t have any control.  Well, stop and think a minute.  Maybe not at first if you’re in the habit of reacting to something being said in a accusational way.  “You statements” imply that someone else is responsible for how you feel.  When we use “I” statements we own how we feel thus opening up the conversation.  Have you ever been around someone who just doesn’t seem to own anything that happens to them in their life?  How does it feel?  How does the conversation go with them?

Ownership is a huge issue, because when we imply that someone else is the owner of our feelings, it blames, and accuses the receiver.  They in turn, will become less supportive of you, and be less willing to make peace or to discuss something with you further.  In our next blog, we will discuss “I” statements and how they can make all the difference in expressing our frustrations.

Yours for better parenting,

Rich