Bad communication is often characterized by the use of “you” language. For example “you are…”, “you should…,” you people…,” and “you better…”. These directives come across as demanding, passing judgment, or like you are ordering people around. I have watched couples argue and often here things that include:
“You are not good enough…”
“You need to do this now…”
“You should behave…”
“You had better…”
“You are an &#@!…”
So here is the answer. Use I statements. This will prevent the other party from getting defensive. I-statement consist of a description of how you feel, the conditions under which you feel that way and why those conditions cause you to feel the way you do. For example, you can say: “I feel… (state your emotion) when you…(describe their behavior or the condition that made you feel this way) because….(explain why their behavior or the conditions cause you to feel this way). Don’t get me wrong, it is difficult to get into this habit, we use “you” to state opinions as facts and make over-generalizations. But there are definite advantages to using I statements.
Benefits of using I statements
- Avoids blaming others for how you feel
- Accurate and less hostile explanation of what your are feeling
- Informs the other person that their behavior is causing a problem
- Minimizes resentment, guilt, and put-downs
Give it a try! If you need help or coaching in this area don’t hesitate to reach out to me at www.myerslifecoachingllc.com. First lesson is on me!