Good communication is integral to good relationships. “I” statements are etiquette-ful to use when communicating wants and needs because they help you remain clear and straightforward while taking responsibility for your feelings.
Using “You” statements will get you off on the wrong foot in conversation, especially when they stem from emotions.
Each of the statements above come from a place of annoyance or disappointment and lay blame on the other person for causing those feelings. Feeling blamed will only cause someone to become defensive, which can escalate to argument.
Thomas Gordon, a clinical psychologist who labeled the two contrasting statements, emphasized that speakers could be assertive without making accusations. He called these “I” Statements.
“I” statements focus on the beliefs and feelings of the person talking rather than the imagining thoughts, conclusions, and characteristics of someone else. They are about being accurate in what the speaker wants or needs.
Some examples of “I” statements:
These center on the speaker’s feelings and, while they involve how someone made them feel, are not accusatory but rather explain what action caused the feeling.
However, when speaking of actions in general terms, it’s easy to let an “I” statement transform into a “You” statement.
To ensure that your “I” statements are etiquette-ful and focused on your feelings rather than turning into accusatory “You” statements, it is worth practicing them. Think of various situations that you face or have faced when you would like to stand up for yourself and your feelings. Use these situations to form some “I” statements and say them out loud in practice sessions with yourself or a role-playing partner.
Reportedly, continuously working on this skill of using “I” statements will improve
But most importantly, they help improve your relationship with yourself. They will give you more confidence and reduce any fear you have around speaking up for yourself. After all, it is easier to communicate how you feel when you know it will not lead to an uncomfortable confrontation.
“I” statements are etiquette-ful because they allow you to take responsibility for feelings and communicate those feelings in a healthy way. As a communication tool, it’s useful for avoiding or resolving conflict without blaming someone else for the situation. When you can use a skill to speak up for yourself, help you communicate effectively, and avoid confrontation, there is no reason not to do so!