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A Good Communication Technique to Try

We are social beings and interact with people every day of our life and our happiness depends on how the interactions with others turns out.

To have good management of relationships, we need to be assertive and honest in sharing our thoughts, feelings, and concerns. However, this needs to be done in a way that is respectful and encourages both parties to listen to each other. A good way to do this is through the use “I” Messages.

In “I” messages, statements are made about ourselves, how we feel and concerns, and what actions of the other party has led to the concerns. “You” messages focus on the other person and usually leads the other person becoming defensive unless the “You” message is a positive statement of the other person.

For example, you are waiting for the return of your partner and when they return you say: “You are always coming home late! Why can’t you be home earlier?” This “You” message makes your partner feeling blamed and attacked and the ensuing communication will likely not be loving. In a conflicting situation, “You” message focuses on attacking the other person. As a result, the primary issues are pushed aside.

In contrast, in this same scenario, an “I” message would look like this: “I feel lonely while waiting for you to come home. I’m concerned that you are often home late, and I get frustrated wondering when you’re going to be home.” In this statement you are sharing your feelings and concerns. The clear communication of the concern is a good starting point for both parties to work out what can be done about it.

“I” messages are effective because the focus is on the issue or concern and not on the other person. The sharing of the speaker’s feelings can also lead to more trust in the relationship as it shows the speaker is willing to look within themselves and take responsibility for their feelings.

Generally, in most interactions, the use of “I” messages is always superior to “You” messages and is a more respectful way of communicating. So, even when expressing positive feelings, a “You” message: “You look good in this dress”, could be enhanced by “I” messages: “I’m so happy to see you. I remember all the fun we used to have. You look good.”

I feel _________________ (express your feeling)
when you _____________ (describe the action that affects you or relates to the feeling)
because _______________ (explain how the action affects you or relates to the feeling)

Examples of more “I” messages:
“I get very anxious when you raise your voice at me because it makes me feel like I’ve done something very wrong. Could you please not raise your voice when we talk?”

“I’m so happy you’re learning to cook because then I’ll know you can prepare your own meal when I’m unable to be home in time to cook.”

“When you take so long talking to your friend on the phone, I’m concerned that there might be urgent calls that cannot come through. Also, I feel frustrated as I would like to spend more time with you. How about asking your friend to call at another time, when I am not around.”

Use of “I” messages might not come naturally, however, with practice, you will be surprised at how you will begin to like this communication approach, especially when you begin to experience the good result of better-quality interactions and more harmonious relationships.

About David Lawson

Finding the Light is a locally owned and operated counselling and life coaching business based in Bundaberg. We seek to empower our clients to find their way forward to a better life by using the approaches of counselling or coaching. If this blog article has raised more questions please contact us by email or call us on 0407 585 497 to arrange a time for us to discuss the article. Mention this blog and we will give you a FREE 30 minute session to discuss.

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