The way we communicate determines the reactions and responses we get from others.
There’s power in using ‘I’ Messages!
The more you use ‘I’ Messages, the more you become aware of your own needs.
Awareness is the key!
Using ‘I’ Messages also means you are taking responsibility for your own well-being too.
These are some points I often find useful in introducing the concept of ‘I’ Messages:
• ‘I’ Messages are less likely to generate defensiveness in others.
For example, most people will find it easier to hear, “I noticed you were late home last night, after I asked you to come home early” rather than, “You’re so selfish for not coming home when you were asked to! ” In a similar way, “I’ve been tired at night after doing lots of cooking” will create a different reaction in others than, “You never help me with the cooking!”.
• A primary value of ‘I’ Messages is that they communicate what is going on inside of us – so we take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, words and actions.
• ‘You’ Messages are, in many ways, the opposite of ‘I’ Messages.
‘You’ messages tend to blame, label and judge people. In addition, ‘You’ Messages are often filled with instructions (what they ‘should’ ‘ought’ to do). For example, “You’re not an effective leader and you should be a lot better at this by now.”
• Besides being easier for other people to receive than ‘You’ messages. ‘I’ Messages are often easier to send. Speaking with ‘I’ Messages in a timely fashion prevents us from ‘stuffing’ our feelings and allowing unspoken upsets to accumulate.
Despite these potential benefits, you can find ‘I’ Messages tough to master, even when you have the best intentions. It can be mastered by practising using ‘I’ Messages when not under pressure.
Have a go, try them and see if they make a difference to how you communicate with other people.