An interesting question came up during today’s communications class. We were discussing ‘I-statements’: the technique of talking from one’s own point of view about how another’s behavior is impacting us. “I-Statements” are commonly recommended as a way to create less confrontational conversations when a conflict is afoot. It’s generally thought to be better than accusatory statements.
For example, “I am uncomfortable with …” or “I feel unimportant when…” tend to get a better response than blaming “you-you-you”.
That said, a question was raised: isn’t all this “I-I-I” talk selfish? Several thought it was.
Sure. All that “I-talk” can be very offputting in a daily, social conversation. However, when two or a few of us are in conflict, “you’s”can begin to sound accusatory, judgmental, even hostile:
“You are irresponsible.” “You are selfish.” “You don’t listen.” “You interrupt.”
And so, while it may seem counterintuitive, in this context, I-statements can help keep a difficult conversation grounded in care and respect.
“I-Statements” inform you of how I am feeling – information that gives you insight into the impact of your behavior/words. With an I-Statement, I offer you the chance to shift your behavior out of respect for me.
In fact, I honor you by not judging or hiding from you. Rather than attack, I let you know how you are impacting me so you can choose anew, hoping you will honor me with that choice.
What do you think about using I-Statements?