In today’s post, we’re going to explore “I” statements as a way to enhance your communication with others. “I” statements are a communication tool that focuses on the thoughts and feelings of the speaker. It allows the speaker to identify and to own their thoughts and feelings towards a specific situation without placing blame on the person they’re talking to.
By using “I” statements, feelings of defensiveness in the listener are reduced. The other person is more likely to want to listen to you. That means you’re more likely to find areas of agreement and more likely to get what you want or need.
How Well Do You Communicate With Others?
Why is being able to communicate well with others important? Being able to effectively communicate with others is important because it makes life feel better and run more smoothly. This is because people hear what we have to say and will be more open to helping us.
Unfortunately, communicating with others can be challenging because relationships are challenging. Relationships can bring up past pain, as well as feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Oftentimes people hear others through these filters.
Factors Affecting How You Communicate
Some of us have been raised to not acknowledge our own thoughts and feelings. If this applies to you, you may have a difficult time knowing what it is that you’re actually thinking or feeling. You may find yourself feeling triggered by things people say to you without knowing why. As a result, you may respond to people from a place of defensiveness.
Whereas, others may have learned that it’s necessary to communicate aggressively in order to be heard, to get what they want, or to protect themselves. They don’t have any problems with recognizing their immediate thoughts and feelings, but they have a hard time recognizing or valuing the perspectives of others. If this applies to you, conversations with others may escalate in intensity or the other person starts to shut down.
A Tool for Improved Communication: “I” Statements
Of course, nobody finds these types of conversations to be satisfying or fulfilling. It’s hard for anybody to meet their needs when they either don’t know what they want or need, or they overpower others. That’s where “I” statements come in.
“I” statements are assertive, rather than aggressive. They help the speaker get to the heart of the underlying issue that’s bothering them. “I” statements promote honest communication that can help bring people closer together.
When first starting to play with “I” statements, the following template may be helpful: “I feel… because… when… What I need is…” The trick is to make sure that you aren’t using “Hidden You” statements which begin with an “I,” but still assign blame to the other person. In the video below, I talk a bit more about “I” statements and tips for creating them.
Have you used “I” statements before? If so, how have they helped you? Please share your experience in the comments below.