The Benefits of Using I-Statements in Your Relationships
An I-statement is not that complicated. It is hard to explain sometimes though. I’ve used it with adults, children, and youth. Everyone struggles with it. I struggle with it!
An I-statement is meant to be helpful as a way to communicate with someone else, especially when you have an issue with them. The point of an I-statement was originally meant for the person who has the issue to take responsibility for their feelings around whatever the other person has done.
I don’t see it that way. I see an I-statement as a way to connect with your feelings, period.
I have been known to say to my son, and he would be only too happy to vouch for me on this one, “You are being so inconsiderate right now.”
His response, “What did I do? I was excited to show you the pictures.” (This incident occurred not too long ago, when we lived together in the same apartment.)
Defensiveness is the usual response to a you-statement, which is the format I used.
An I-statement identifies the feelings involved and is more specific, which encourages a discussion that can work towards a compromise.
Instead of what I said, I could have said, “I am tired and want to watch the show like we planned so I can relax and forget about the long day I’ve had. I feel hurt that you can’t understand that. Can we go through those pictures later?”
My son still may have gotten a little defensive, mainly because he was so excited about the pictures for my mom’s, his grandmother’s, birthday. But we could have set up a time the next day to go through them, and it wouldn’t have ended up in a huge argument like it did. (I will spare you the details.)
The benefits of I-statements
- You can avoid huge arguments that blow the original issue out of proportion due to hurt feelings that don’t get expressed effectively.
- You can become more in tune with your feelings, and the more you become mindful about using I-statements, the more aware of your feelings you will become, which is ALWAYS a good thing.