Thursday, February 21, 2008

Relationship Tip: "I" not "You" Statements

Often couples get into conflict. Some couples though get into conflict way more then others. One way to help couples not get "flooded" (that is get to state where they are so emotionally charged up that they are thinking objectively anymore) is stop using "You" statements when bringing up issues and replace them with something better. Here are some examples:

"You make me so frustrated when you spend so much time on the internet!"
"You aren't doing your share of the housework anymore."
"You are always making us late and that's getting me mad."
"You don't follow through on your commitments!"

Starting out a conversation about something you care about using these kind of "you" statements are almost always guaranteed to put someone on the defensive. It feels like an attack and most people, especially if there is lots of conflict already in the relationship, will attack back. Instead, learn to stop criticizing and start sharing complaints that begin with "I" statements. I statements state the information in a way that puts the starting emphasis on oneself:

"I'm feeling frustrated when you spend lots of time on the internet!"
"I would really like it if you could do the housework you agreed to do, I feel like I'm doing my share and some of yours."
"I'm getting frustrated and angry when we don't leave early enough, can you help me with this?
"When I don't see you follow through on your commitments, I get really upset!

As you can see, the statements still bring forth the core complaint, but comes across less critically to the person. It's a subtle shift, but makes a difference to the receiver who usually finds it easier to accept and then deal with. Changing your habit of saying "you" to "I" may take some time but if you can do it, you will see a positive change in your relationship.

May Light increase!


Mark said...

Jobina pointed out to me that the tone used is very important in this, which I agree with. Using "I" statements is just a piece of the puzzle. Other parts include your tone, your timing, and how often you've made encouraging comments in the past day or two.

Michele said...

She's right, Mark. It's all in the tone. John reminds me of that often! Thanks for the tips though.