VOS: The Power of “I” Statements in Communication

The Power of “I” Statements in Communication

Psychology explained

July 2023

The Power of “I” Statements in Communication

Conflicts are an inevitable part of human interactions whether in a work environment, in close relationships, in the store or a post office. When something is bothering you, finding ways to express our concerns without escalating the situation can be challenging. Additionally, there is one important thing to know about communication:

What you say is different from what the other person hears.

So called “I” statements or also assertive statements are a game changer in communication. Learning to use them allows you to effectively communicate your feelings, needs, and concerns in a manner that is more receptive and understandable to the listener.

The essence of an "I" message lies in focusing on your own experiences and emotions rather than solely expressing your perspective of what the other person has done or failed to do. By centering the conversation around your own emotions and experiences, you don't provoke as much guilt, anger and need to defend yourself in your conversation partner. So you allow the other person to really hear what's bothering you, and you open up space for constructive communication.

Examples of “I” statements:

  1. “YOU” statement: You never listen to me.

    “I” statement: I feel that I'm not being heard.

  2. “YOU” statement: You always give me a lot of work while Marie does nothing.

    “I” statement: I feel like I'm working more than my colleagues and it's bothering me.

  3. “YOU” statement: You never clean the dishes after dinner.

    “I” statement: I feel tired when I have to do the dishes after dinner and I'd like you to help me.

Another tips:

  • Talk about how the situation makes you feel
  • Be specific about the situation
  • Suggest a solution

Learning to talk about yourself is not selfish. It's an effective way to resolve conflict. By using "I" statements, you are telling the other person what the situation looks like from your point of view. But it also takes a lot of courage because you are honestly admitting how you feel. You are very direct and open about your needs.

Finally, we would like to add that it is equally important to be able to listen. If someone is accusing you of something, try to think about the feeling or need behind it. You now have the key to better understanding communication that your partner may not have.

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